The lot is sold with a copy of the H.M.S.O. publication 'Report on the Typhus Epidemic at Gardelegen by the Government Committee on the Treatment by the Enemy of British Prisoners of War during the Spring and Summer of 1915'. This shocking report was presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of His Majesty in October 1916. Also sold with a later original watercolour depicting one of the hospital rooms at the height of the epidemic.
D.C.M. London Gazette 11.3.1916 'For gallant conduct and devotion in volunteering for isolation with cerebro-spinal fever patients and nursing them devotedly for many weeks'.
Sergeant F. Bennison, D.C.M., was interned in the Prisoner-of-War camp at Gardelegen after being captured early on in the War. In early February 1915 a raging epidemic of typhus broke out in the overcrowded camp, exacerbated by the cold winter, inadequate clothing, lack of food, poor sanitation, a pitiful amount of medical supplies and the routine brutality of the guards. At the time the camp held 4,000 Russian, 6,000 French, 700 Belgians and about 230 British. By the time the epidemic had burnt itself out in June 2,000 cases had been dealt with at a 15 mortality rate. At its height, the German medical authorities withdrew, leaving the camp to its own devices. Allied Medical Officers were specially brought into the camp to deal with the deteriorating situation and they found themselves in need of Orderlies to care for the sick and dying. As there was no protection against the transmission of the disease, the men who volunteered as Orderlies did so in the full knowledge that they too were likely to contract it and initially only unmarried men were selected. Bennison was one of 22 British soldiers who volunteered, of which 20 contracted the disease and two died.