In July 1916 The Battle of the Somme, where nearly 20,000 British Soldiers died on its first day, soldiers in their thousands were wounded, 57,000 casualties on the first day. Home interest in the Battle was intense. Almost every family in the land knew someone fighting in the Somme. It was a long time before the truth about the Somme slaughter began to appear in the newspaper columns of casualties. Whole pages were grey with hundreds of names, column after column of dead soldiers. British families were all in mourning, grief-stricken by the news. Rotherham became a community suppressed in grief and deeply saddened pain. Whole streets had drawn blinds, and flowers were laid in memory of the dead and wounded soldiers, with the battle to rage until November of that year.
Tending men with terrible wounds and young soldiers with the effects of poison gas was difficult nursing. As their battle scars healed their mental scars would run much deeper. These men who bared their souls for battle, anticipating their fate without any question, were now left with much time to reflect on all the mutilation of battle. They had seen friends bodies ripped apart in battle, and their fate pulled into question while the smell of death was all around them. Helping to heal these haunting memories were as much part of nursing as treating their open wounds. During its first year of opening, 450 soldiers received treatment at the hospital. Most men despite their wounds and haunting memories remained cheerful throughout their stay. Life in Oakwood was made as comfortable as possible for the men.