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Battista, V., 1914-18 (1956)

Photo : Sophie Tobin Vincent,

Medal Index Card

Shield Daily News Monday 7th August 1922

3rd Canadian General Hospital at Dannes-Camiers

Weekly Casualty List Tuesday 25th June 1918.

Vincent (Vincenzo or Vincy) Battista was born on the 3rd September 1894 at 28 Trafalgar Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne to Antonio, [born 1855, died 20th January 1936], and Christina {Fancredi D'Andrea} Battista, born 20th Sepember 1860, Cassino Italy, died 26th May 1945. They were married in 1884, and had 9 children, 7 survived 2 died.

The children were Antonio, born 7th September 1885, died 1888, Angelo, born Cassino, Italy, 21st May 1883, [married Hannah Battista from South Shields, in January 1911], Remigio Alphonse Battista, born 14th October 1889, Cassino, Frosinone, Lazio, Italy, died in 1969, [who won the Military Medal in WW1], Rosina, 'Rose' born 21st July 1892, Newcastle, Vincent, born Newcastle, Celesta, born 2nd January 1897 Newcastle, [who won the Military Medal in WW1], Francesco, [Frank], born 21st July 1899, Newcastle and Philip, born Newcastle 1903.

In 1881, Antonio and Christina with their eldest boy Angelo were residing at 20 Carliol Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

By 1901 they had moved and were residing at 28 Trafalgar Square, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Where the rest of the 5 children were born.

Antonio, was a self employed Boot Maker, and had two other brothers called Vincenzo, born 29th March 1852, died 4th January 1900, and Giovanni, born 8th April 1845, died 1901, who had settled with their families in Newcastle upon Tyne around 1874.

In 1911 Vincent now 16, was employed as a newspaper boy, with his brother Celesto, age 14. Angelo the eldest had just got married to Hannah Battista, [born 12th February 1891], about 3 months ago, he was an ice Cream Hawker working from home. They were now residing at 2 Picton Terrace Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Vincent attested on the 8th December 1915 at Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the Lord Derby scheme, as a recruit in Group 4, born in 1896 and unmarried. He joined up on the 26th January 1916 at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He was placed into the 23rd Battalion Durham Light Infantry, service nu 23/206. Vincent was 5 feet 7 and three quarter inches tall, and was aged 21 years and 3 months. His next of kin were stated as Christine and Antonio Battista residing now at 103 Blandford Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

After his training he was transferred into the 19th Battalion Durham Light Infantry.

Vincent is given a new service nu of 7199 later to be 242853, and is transferred into the 1/6th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment.

August 1914, the battalion is in Bradford. Part of West Riding Brigade, West Riding Division. Moved on the 10th August to Selby, end of the month to Strenshall and late October to York. In March 1915 moved to Gainsborough. 15th April 1915, landed at Boulogne. On the 15th May 1915, they were part of the 146th Brigade, 49th (West Riding) Division.

Whilst in the field he was awarded Field Punishment no 2 for 2 days, for being absent from a sick Parade on the 24th June 1917.

Sent on UK leave from the 27th October to the 6th November 1917. On the 25th April 1918, Vincent was wounded with a Gun Shot Wound to his left arm and was taken to the 13th Casualty Clearing Station from the 63rd Field Ambulance. Then on the 26th he is admitted to the 3rd Canadian General Hospital.

Shortly after the war broke out, the McGill University organised the No. 3 Canadian General Hospital to serve in France. The Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Colonel Birkett, became the Commanding Officer, recruiting the majority of his staff from the University. Many of the nurses were drawn from hospitals in Montreal. On the 6th May, the new unit set sail for France on the SS Metagama. The hospital was established at Dannes Camiers in the Pas-de-Calais area on 19th June 1915 under canvas, with a staff of 35 Officers, 73 Nursing Sisters and 190 rank and file. Life under canvas that cold wet November was tough, with deep mud, storms, frost and collapsing tents. The conditions so undermined the health of Lieutenant Colonel Yates that he was invalided to England where he died the following year.
During November 1915, the hospital moved to more comfortable accommodation in a partly-destroyed Jesuit College at Boulogne-Sur-Mer. The hospital was part of an evacuation chain, situated further back from the front line than the Casualty Clearing Stations. Base hospitals were ideally situated close to ports and with a railway line so that injured men could be evacuated for longer-term treatment in Britain. The Boulogne area was frequently bombed, but No. 3 was fortunate, escaping serious casualties, although three officers and two nursing sisters did succumb to fatal illnesses.Between 1915 and 1918, the hospital admitted 143,762 sick and wounded patients and performed 11,395 operations with a death rate of 1 in 135. When Sister MacLatchy (awarded the Royal Red Cross Decoration) oversaw the hospital in 1918, it covered 26 acres and had 1,560 beds. Several of the staff were mentioned in dispatches and honoured with awards, and the hospital was visited by Queen Mary in 1917.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, a Medical Officer in the Canadian Field Artillery, was transferred to No. 3 in June 1915 and commanded it until his death from pneumonia in 1918. McCrae was famous as the author of the poem 'In Flanders Fields' written after the 2nd Battle of Ypres.
Source : Royal College of Surgeons and No. 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) in France (1915, 1916, 1917) : views illustrating life and scenes in the hospital with a short description of its origin, organisation and progress. Author: Pirie, A. H. Middlesbrough, Hood & Co.

From the 5th May 1918 Vincent is now at the 7th Convalescent Depot, at Boulogne. Vincent is also deprived of 21 days pay for Misconduct. From the 6th June 1918, he joins the Infantry Base Depot. Rejoining his unit on the 10th June 1918.

On the 15th September 1918, Vincent is wounded again in the head and is admitted to the 1/3rd West Riding Field Ambulance, one of three belonging to the 49th West Riding Division.

From the 11th November to the 17th November 1918 Vincent was absent and was awarded a Field Punishment no 1 for 28 days. He embarked for the UK from Dieppe on the 27th January 1919. Discharged as a Class Z reserve on the 25th February 1919.

After the war Vincent resided at 104 Blandford Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He married a Margaret (born 2nd May 1902), around 1926 and resided at this address for many years. In 1939 they were residing at 43 Sycamore Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. They had three children Dennis born 31st August 1938 and two unknown. Vincent was an Asphalts Labourer currently un-employed.

Christine his mother was residing at 103 Blandford Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with her crippled son Frank in 1939 with another child. She died on the 26th May 1945.

Research : Angela Conroy/Sophie Tobin/James Pasby

Vincent Battista died on the 4th February 1956.

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk