Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Book Review: "An English Governess in the Great War: The Secret Brussels Diary of Mary Thorp"

I have commemorated the First World War for as long as I can remember because Grandfather was an Old Contemptible, but I never realised before reading this book how awful life was for those trapped in the occupied areas of Belgium and France.   I knew about the many Belgians who took refuge in Britain during WW1 but this book is a real eye-opener about the situation of those who were unable to flee.

The diary, which spans the period September 1916 to January 1919, was left as “an anonymous woman’s diary” with the “In Flanders Fields Museum” in Ypres in Belgium in 1989.  American historians De Schaepdrijver and Proctor, who edited the diaries, managed to find valuable clues in the diary as to the identity of the writer of the clandestine diary during such a dangerous time.  Their background research is fascinating.

Mary Thorpe was born in Marylebone, London, UK, on 1st January  1864, the first child of Thomas Thorpe, a horse-drawn carriage driver, and his wife Annette, nee Townshend.   Like my own Great-Grandfather, Thomas had married his deceased wife’s sister at a time when that was forbidden by the Church, according to the Deceased Wife’s Sister Act of 1835.   The family went to live in Belgium in 1873.   Mary went to America in 1881 to visit family and in 1887 began working as a governess.

In 1910, Mary started work as a governess for a wealthy family who lived in Brussels – Paul Wittouck, a sugar refinery owner, and his wife Catherine de Medem, a Russian aristocrat.  The Wittoucks had three sons who needed “… the firm guidance that only an English governess with a command of the French language could give”.  The Wittouck family also owned a house called ‘La Fougeraie’ in the Brussels suburb of Uccle, where they spent the holiday period, taking Mary with them.

With the threat of war, Mary elected to remain with the family in Belgium and in September 1916, she began keeping a diary of her war-time experiences.  In spite of the privations of food, coal, clothes, etc. – tea was particularly hard to come by and expensive - and the restrictions in communication with the outside world, Mary remained positive and never gave up hope that Britain would win through.   Mary had a nephew – Dick Dodson – who was interned in the camp at Ruhleben in Germany and occasionally managed to get parcels of food sent to him and to receive letters from him.

But the diary does not only contain information about the day-to-day problems of those living under German occupation, the Wittouck family were important members of Brussels society and entertained VIPs such as American diplomats who remained in Brussels until just prior to America’s entry into the conflict in April 1917.  You will also find interesting information gleaned during the entertainment of such visitors. I did not realise that the British had “mounted a “coup d’Etat” to dethrone the Czar” (p. 184) prior to the Russian Revolution.

Among the photographs reproduced in the book is a map that clearly marks the German occupied area of Belgium and shows the line of the Western Front.   I was interested to read that Mary referred not to tanks but ‘cistern Land dreadnoughts’  and to discover that Belgian men who were out of work were sent to Germany for forced labour and many died as a result of harsh treatment.    As the war progressed, so did the rationing and the requisitioning of all metal such as cooking utensils which were sent to German to make guns.   At one point even people’s mattresses, which at that time were filled with wool, were taken away and sent to Germany (p. 185). 

With frequent house searches by German soldiers, it was difficult to hide anything and the danger involved in trying to smuggle messages or letters to other parts of Belgium is highlighted on page 47 where we learn that Madame Wittouck “spent a night in prison in Liège for her intent to carry two personal letters from Vielsalm (a small town south-east of Liège) to Brussels.”

The diary contains fascinating insights as to the progress of the war – the guns could be heard in Brussels and planes and Zeppelins were frequently overhead – as well as everyday details of life at that time.   The German authorities at one point closed down schools.  The only newspapers permitted were the neutral Dutch ones and those published under the direction of the Germans.   The Belgian authorities banned skating on frozen ponds in public places because the Germans would take photographs and films to demonstrate to the world that they were on friendly terms with the Belgians.   I was also interested to read that the Germans, with a ‘divide and rule’ tactic, encouraged the differences between the French and Flemish Belgians.

After the Armistice in November 1918, Mary was able to visit some English soldiers in a local hospital and was shocked to find the awful conditions they had to endure – “no care, no nursing, next to no food, dirt & squalor…”.   In the Epilogue is mention of a letter sent to Mary by one of the soldiers she visited.   Mary remained in Belgium, where she died on 2nd December 1945.     

This book is definitely required reading for anyone seriously interested in the history of the First World War.

“An English Governess in the Great War:  The Secret Brussels Diary of Mary Thorp” Edited by Sophie De Schaepdrijver and Tammy M. Proctor (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2017) £25.00 available from Amazon or the Oxford University Press Website http://global.oup.com/?cc=gb

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Gladys Corfield Hughes (1888 - 1918) - British Nur

Gladys was born in Shropshire, UK in 1888. Her parents were Thomas Hughes, a grocer and farmer and his wife Martha Titley Hughes, nee Corfield.   Gladys had the following siblings:  Martha A., b. 1885, Ethel T., b. 1891, George H., b. 1893, Gertrude S., b. 1894, the twins Dorothy N. and Stella M. b. 1897 and James H., b. 1898.  The family lived in Trefonen, Shropshire.

Chris Woods of the commemorative Group Lights out Trefonen (see website below) has researched Gladys’ First World War nursing career and has given me permission to share the information with you.

Gladys was educated at Grove Park County Grammar School, a Boarding School in Wrexham, and trained as a nurse at Mill Road Infirmary in Liverpool, which was a general hospital at that time.  In June 1915, Gladys joined the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service and served in hospitals on the Western Front.  She was posted to the Woolwick Military Hospital in Britain, became ill with influenza and died on 6th November 1918.   Gladys’s body was taken back to Shropshire and she was buried with full military honours in Nantmawr Chapel Graveyard which is near her home.  She is remembered on the War Memorial in Trefonen, along with two of her cousins who also served and died during WW1  – George Hughes, who was a Second Lieutenant with the King’s Shorpshire Regiment, killed on 12th August 1917 and buried in Anneux British Military Cemetery, and Charles Henry Hughes, a Second Lieutenant with the Welsh Regiment, killed on 30th August 1918, and buried in the Morval British Cemetery.

Sources:
and The Commonwealth War Graves Commission List of Female Casualties of the First World War

Photo by kind permission of Chris Woods.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Some of the women who died or were killed while serving in some capacity during 1917

WOMEN WHO DIED OR WERE KILLED IN 1917

The following women are not listed on the CWGC List of Female Casualties of WW1 - I know there will be more to add to this list :

Lilian E. Chinn, VAD, died 24th June 1917 – see Inspirational Women Facebook page

Margaret Valentine, born 1890, killed in an accident at a munitions factory on 17th April 1917.  “The death of a woman munitions worker from Manchester, this day 100 years ago - reported in the Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette - 19th April 1917 Known at: 19th April 1917

At the Manchester City Coroner's inquest yesterday on Margaret Valentine (27), of Chatham Street, the evidence showed that the woman went on top of a vat of corrosive liquid, slipped and fell in, receiving fatal burns.”


Ethel Saxon TFNS d. 3.9.1917 b. 1891 Liverpool connection – commemorated Liverpool Cathedral

The following are listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission List of Female Casualties of the First World War

LIJSSENTHOEK MILITARY CEMETERY, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium

SPINDLER, Staff Nurse, NELLIE. 44th Casualty Clearing Station, Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. Killed in action, 21 August 1917. Age 26. Daughter of George and Elizabeth Spindler, of Wakefield. One of only two female casualties of the Great War buried in Belgium. Grave Reference: XVI. A. 3.

ALEXANDRIA (HADRA) WAR MEMORIAL CEMETERY, Egypt

BALL, Nursing Sister, CATHERINE. Voluntary Aid Detachment. Drowned off Alexandria, 31 December 1917. Age 28. Daughter of John King Ball and Catherine Ball, of 25, Trent Bridge Footway, Nottingham. Grave Reference: B. 45.

BROWN, Nursing Sister, WINIFRED MAUD. Voluntary Aid Detachment. Drowned in loss of H.M.S. "Osmanieh" (mine explosion) off Alexandria, 31 December 1917. Age 30. Daughter of Arthur Brown, M.Inst. C.E., and Caroline Brown, of "Glenthorne," 3, Lucknow Avenue, Nottingham. Grave Reference: B. 40.

BYTHEWAY, Nurse, GERTRUDE. Voluntary Aid Detachment. Drowned in loss of H.M.S. "Osmanieh" (mine explosion) off Alexandria, 31 December 1917. Age 37. Daughter of George and Lottie Bytheway, of Walsall, Staffs. Grave Reference: B. 42.

COOKE, Staff Nurse, E K, 2/RESC/1266. Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. 8 September 1917. Grave Reference: B. 25.

DUNCANSON, Nurse, UNA MARGUERITE. Voluntary Aid Detachment. 31 December 1917. Age 25. Daughter of Mrs. H. F. Duncanson, of Pumps Court, Tovil, Maidstone. Grave Reference: B. 41.

HAWLEY, Probationer Nurse, (Special), NELLIE, 83/11/1057. Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, attd. H.M.S. "Osmanieh" . Drowned in loss of H.M.S. "Osmanieh" (mine explosion) off Alexandria, 31 December 1917. Age 29. Daughter of Alfred Arthur and Stella Hawley, of 29, Kingshall Rd., Beckenham, Kent. Grave Reference: B. 46.

MIDWOOD, Nurse, LILIAN. Voluntary Aid Detachment. Drowned in loss of H.M.S. "Osmanieh" (mine explosion) off Alexandria, 31 December 1917. Age 32. Daughter of Mrs. E. G. Midwood, of London. Grave Reference: B. 43.

ROBERTS, Staff Nurse, M D, R/853. Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, attd. H.M.S. "Osmanieh". Drowned in loss of H.M.S. "Osmanieh" (mine explosion) off Alexandria, 31 December 1917. Grave Reference: B. 44.

ROGERS, Nurse, HERMIONE ANGELA. Voluntary Aid Detachment. Drowned, 31 December 1917. Age 22. Daughter of Francis Edward Newman Rogers and Louisa Annie Rogers, of Rainscombe, Marlborough, Wilts. Grave Reference: B. 39.

ISMAILIA WAR MEMORIAL CEMETERY, Egypt

TURTON, Staff Nurse, ALICE MARY. (Special Reserve), Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, attd. 26th Stat. Hospital. Died of pneumonia, 7 May 1917. Age 36.  Daughter of Mr. W. R. and Mrs. S. A. Turton. Grave Reference: A. 31.

ETAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY, Pas-de-Calais, France

DAWSON, Matron, EVELINE MAUD. Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. 10 April 1917. Age 49. Sister of Miss E. Dawson, of 27, Queen's Rd., Bromley, Kent. Grave Reference: XVII. D. 24.

LUKER, Worker, DORIS MARY, 6947. Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. Died of pneumonia, 13 February 1919. Age 21. Daughter of James and Mary Luker, of Woking, Surrey. Joined in Jan., 1917, and had been in France 12 months. Grave Reference: LXXII. B.

GODEWAERSVELDE BRITISH CEMETERY, Nord, France

KEMP, Sister, E M. 58th Casualty Clearing Station, Territorial Force Nursing Service. 20 October 1917. Grave Reference: I. M. 1.

LONGUENESSE (ST. OMER) SOUVENIR CEMETERY, Pas de Calais, France

BLENCOWE, Sister, MABEL EDITH. Territorial Force Nursing Service. 10 March 1917. Age 36. Daughter of Mrs. E. Blencowe, of 51, Bainton Rd., Oxford. Grave Reference: III. B.

CLIMIE, Staff Nurse, AGNES MURDOCH. Mentioned in Despatches. 58th General Hospital, Territorial Force Nursing Service. Killed in enemy air raid, 30 September 1917. Age 32. Daughter of Andrew Climie and Isabella Adam, his wife, of 18, St. Bride's Rd., Newlands, Glasgow. Grave Reference: VI. B. 1. https://www.firstworldwarglasgow.co.uk/index.aspx?articleid=11416

COLES, Member, DAISY KATHLEEN MARY. 58th General Hospital, Voluntary Aid Detachment. Killed in enemy air raid, 30 September 1917. Age 24. Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Walter G. Coles, of Priorsford House, Peebles. Grave Reference: VI. B. 3. http://www.scarletfinders.co.uk/74.html

MILNE, Sister, MABEL LEE. Mentioned in Despatches. 58th General Hospital, Territorial Force Nursing Service. Badly wounded during the air raid on 58th General Hospital, St. Omer on 30th September 1917.  Sister Mable Milne died on 2nd October 1917. Grave Reference: VI. B. 4.

THOMSON, Nursing Member, ELIZABETH. 58th General Hospital, Voluntary Aid Detachment. Killed during air raid on 30th September 1917. Grave Reference: VI. B. 2.

MALO-LES-BAINS COMMUNAL CEMETERY, Nord, France

KINNEAR, Nurse, KATHARINE FERRARS. Voluntary Aid Detachment. Died of enteric, 3 September 1917. Age 29. Daughter of the late Rev. Henry G. Kinnear, M.A., of Copgrove Rectory, Yorks., and Mrs. Kinnear. Born at Ripon, Yorks. Awarded Diploma by the French Government in recognition of services. Grave Reference: I. A. 2A.

ST. SEVER CEMETERY EXTENSION, ROUEN, Seine-Maritime, France

STEELE, Worker, WINIFRED MARY, 1593. Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. Died of pnuemonia, 9 December 1918. Age 27. Daughter of David and Jane Steele, of Newport Pagnell, Bucks. Attested at Derby 1917. A Telegraphist, G.P.O., Derby, for 9 years. Grave Reference: S. V. L. 7.

ST. SEVER CEMETERY, ROUEN, Seine-Maritime, France

DICKSON, Nurse, MARY C. Voluntary Aid Detachment. Died of meningitis, 16 February 1917. Age 30. Daughter of the Rev. W. A. Dickson and Mary Dickson, of Shedagh, Fahan, Donegal. Grave Reference: Officers, B. 4. 9.

 KNOX, Sister, HILDA MARY. Australian Army Nursing Service. Died of sickness, 17 February 1917. Age 33. Daughter of James and Isabella Knox, of Benalla, Victoria, Australia. Grave Reference: Officers, B. 4. 10.

SMITH LEE, Nurse, JEANNIE. 30th (Northumberland) Detachment attd. 9th Gen. Hosp., Voluntary Aid Detachment. Died of sickness, 30 March 1917. Age 25. Daughter of Mr. Smith Lee, of Scaurside, Haltwhistle, Northumberland. Grave Reference: Officers, B. 5. 25.

STE. MARIE CEMETERY, LE HAVRE, Seine-Maritime, France

CRUICKSHANK, Nursing Sister, ISABELLA. Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. Lost at sea (mine explosion) half mile north from Whistle Buoy, Le Havre, 10 April 1917. Age 48. Daughter of William and Isabella Mutch Cruickshank, of Aberdeen. Grave Reference: "Salta" Memorial.

ENGLAND, Stewardess, F J. H.M.H.S. "Salta", Mercantile Marine. Lost at sea (mine explosion) half mile north from Whistle Buoy, Le Havre, 10 April 1917. Grave Reference: "Salta" Memorial.

FOYSTER, Nursing Sister, ELLEN LUCY. Special Reserve, Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. Lost at sea (mine explosion) half mile North from Whistle Buoy, Le Havre, 10 April 1917. Age 36. Daughter of Rebecca Foyster, of 37, Madeira Avenue, Worthing, Sussex, and the late H. A. Foyster. On active service 1915-1917. Grave Reference: "Salta" Memorial.

GURNEY, Staff Nurse, E S. Special Reserve, Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. Lost at sea (mine explosion) half mile north from Whistle Buoy, Le Havre, 10 April 1917. Grave Reference: "Salta" Memorial.

JONES, Nursing Sister, GERTRUDE EILEEN. Special Reserve, Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. Lost at sea (mine explosion) half mile North from Whistle Buoy, Le Havre, 10 April 1917. Age 31. Grave Reference: "Salta" Memorial.

MANN, Staff Nurse, AGNES GREIG. Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, attd. H.M.H.S. "Salta.". Drowned at sea on H.M.H.S. "Salta." (mine explosion), half a mile N. from Whistle Buoy, Le Havre, 10 April 1917. Age 25. Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Mann, of 17, Clepington St., Dundee. Grave Reference: Div. 62. 1.

MASON, Staff Nurse, FANNY. Special Reserve, Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. Lost at sea (mine explosion) half mile North from Whistle Buoy, Le Havre, 10 April 1917. Age 27. Daughter of Thomas and Catherine Elizabeth Mason, of Ivy Court, Giggleswick, nr. Settle, Yorks. Native of Hawes, Yorks. Grave Reference: "Salta" Memorial.

McALISTER, Staff Nurse, CLARA. Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. Lost at sea (mine explosion) half mile North from Whistle Buoy, Le Havre, 10 April 1917. Age 36. Sister of Marion McAlister, of Little Hill, Pulborough, Sussex. Grave Reference: "Salta" Memorial.

ROBERTS, Staff Nurse, JANE. Special Reserve, Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. Lost at sea (mine explosion) half mile North from Whistle Buoy, Le Havre, 10 April 1917. Grave Reference: "Salta" Memorial.

VAUXBUIN FRENCH NATIONAL CEMETERY, Aisne, France 

GARTSIDE-TIPPING, Civilian, Mrs. MARY STUART. Women's Emergency Canteens, (Compiegne). Accidentally shot by a deranged soldier, 6th March 1917. Awarded the Croix de Guerre (France).  Daughter of the late Captain Flynn, R.A.; widow of the late Lieut.-Commander H.T. Gartside-Tipping (R.N.), of ''Quarr Wood'', Binstead, Isle of Wight. Grave Reference: III. B. 5.

Mary’s husband, was killed when his Dover Patrol ship, the yacht H.M. “Sanda” was sunk by German gunfire off the coast of Zeebrugge in 1915.  He was apparently the oldest serving Royal Naval officer to be killed in WW1.

WIMEREUX COMMUNAL CEMETERY, Pas de Calais, France

CLAYTON-SWAN, Civilian, MILDRED. Army Service Corps (Canteens). 24 February 1917. Grave Reference: III. G. 2.

DUNCAN, Sister, ISABELLA LUCY MAY. 13th Stat. Hosp., Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. 1 March 1917. Daughter of John and Caroline Duncan, of Manchester. Grave Reference: III. F. 2.

EVANS, Member, MARGARET ELLEN. 83rd Gen. Hosp, Voluntary Aid Detachment. 22 July 1917. Age 39. Daughter of the late Daniel John and Emma Evans, of Stamford. Grave Reference: III. A. 1.

HOCKEY, Sister, JESSIE OLIVE. Reserve, Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. 14 August 1917. Age 32. Daughter of James Temlitte Hockey and Martha Ann Hockey, of Cape Province, South Africa. Grave Reference: III. A. 3.

KING, Member, NITA MADELINE. Voluntary Aid Detachment. 25 May 1917. Age 29. Daughter of George Hall King and Lydia King, of Cosham, Hants. Grave Reference: III. B. 4.

TREVELYAN, Civilian, ARMOREL AVICE KATE, known as KITTY. Army Service Corps (Canteens). Died of measles and pneumonia, 27 February 1917. Age 19. Daughter of Mrs. Trevelyan (now Sinclair) and the late Capt. Walter Raleigh Trevelyan, of Furry Park, Raheny, Co. Dublin. Grave Reference: III. F. 4.

MIKRA BRITISH CEMETERY, KALAMARIA, Greece  

ASTELL, Sister, FRANCES ETHEL. Territorial Force Nursing Service. 17 December 1917. Age 38. Daughter of Mrs. M. J. Astell, of 187, Queen's Rd., Norwich. Grave Reference: 187.

DEWAR, Staff Nurse, M S. Mentioned in Despatches. (Reserve), Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. 12 March 1917. Grave Reference: 1554.

GORDON, Volunteer, ELIZABETH MARJORY (ELMA). Voluntary Aid Detachment. Died of malaria, 11 September 1917. Age 43. Daughter of General William Gordon, C.I.E., and Harriet Elizabeth Steuart Gordon, of Banffshire. Grave Reference: 109.

JONES, Volunteer, GLADYS MAUD. Voluntary Aid Detachment. Died of malaria, 21 August 1917. Age 31. Daughter of Alfred and Adelaide Letitia Jones, of The Spinney, Great Shelford, Cambridge. Grave Reference: 89. 

MARSHALL, Staff Nurse, MARY BETHIA. Mentioned in Despatches. Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. Killed in enemy air raid, 12 March 1917. Age 30. Croix de Guerre with Palms (France). Daughter of James and Catherine (Hoseason) Marshall, of 22, Durand Gardens, Stockwell, London. Grave Reference: 1552.

SALONIKA (LEMBET ROAD) MILITARY CEMETERY, Greece

CATON, Sister, FLORENCE MISSOURI. Scottish Women's Hospital, attached to the Serbian Army.  Died of appendicitis, 15 July 1917. Daughter of Capt. John Henry and Elizabeth Caton. Native of Wrexham, Denbighshire. Grave Reference: 1599.

HARLEY, Civilian, KATHERINE MARY. Civilian, attached to the Serbian Ministry of Interior. Killed during bombardment of Monastir, 7 March 1917. Age 63. Croix de Guerre. Daughter of John Tracy William (R.N.) and Margaret (his wife), of Ripple Vale, Kent; widow of Col. George Ernest Harley, C.B. Grave Reference: O. 38.

DELHI MEMORIAL (INDIA GATE), India

SAXON, Staff Nurse, ETHEL. Territorial Force Nursing Service. 3 September 1917. Age 26. Daughter of Henry and Adelaide Saxon, of The Rosery, Kingsland, Herefordshire. (Buried Karachi Cem. BA. A. 15.). Grave Reference: Face 23.

KIRKEE 1914-1918 MEMORIAL, India

MILNE, Sister, HELEN. Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. 23 November 1917. Age 31. Daughter of James and Louisa Helen Milne, of "Bona Vista", 10, Gurney St., Stonehaven, Grampian. Grave Reference: Face F.

AMARA WAR CEMETERY, Iraq

TREVETHAN, Staff Nurse, R. Territorial Force Nursing Service. 4 September 1917. Grave Reference: XIV. A. 30.

NEWTOWN (ALL SAINTS) CATHOLIC CHURCHYARD, County Waterford, Ireland

 O'CALLAGHAN, Stewardess, ANNE. S.S. "Formby.", Mercantile Marine. 16 December 1917. Age 52. Daughter of Mrs. Alice O'Callaghan, of 41, St. Joseph's Terrace, Green St., Waterford, and the late John O'Callaghan. Grave Reference: East of middle path.

PIETA MILITARY CEMETERY, Malta

TATE, Doctor, ISOBEL ADDY. Serbian Relief Fund, Friend's War Victims' Relief Committee. 28 January 1917. M.D., D.P.H. Grave Reference: XXIX. 3.

WATSON, Staff Nurse, DOROTHY. St. John''s Military Hosp., Territorial Force Nursing Service. 13 March 1917. Grave Reference: XXIX. 4.

ARCHANGEL MEMORIAL, Russian Federation

PALMIERI, Nurse, Mrs. ALICIA. Voluntary Aid Detachment. 15th May 1917. 

East Finchley Cemetery, London, UK

INMAN, Worker, DOROTHY MARGUERITE, 35104. Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. 11th March 1917. Age 26. Daughter of Frank Joseph and Rose Wethered; wife of Arthur Conyers Inman. Grave Reference: G.1.41

GLASGOW WESTERN NECROPOLIS, Glasgow, United Kingdom

MUNRO, Staff Nurse, ANNIE WINIFRED. South African Military Nursing Service. Died of phthisis, 6 April 1917. Age 26. Daughter of William and Ellen Munro, of St. Patrick's Rd., Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg, Natal. Grave Reference: B. 1881A.

GOLDERS GREEN JEWISH CEMETERY, Middlesex, United Kingdom

See photo in Nurses of WW1 Pictures

LEVER, Nurse, Lady BEATRICE HILDA. Voluntary Aid Detachment. 26 May 1917. Age 43. Wife of Sir Arthur Levy Lever Bart, of Hans Crescent. Grave Reference: Row 20 Grave 9 1st Baronet, known as Arthur Levy until 1896, was a Liberal Party politician in England. He was Member of Parliament (MP) for Harwich from 1906 to January 1910. He was returned to the House of Commons at the 1922 general election as National Liberal MP for Hackney Central, but stood down at the 1923 general election. Born Arthur Levy, he assumed the surname of Lever in lieu of Levy by deed poll in 1896 and by Royal license in 1911. In 1911 he was made a Baronet, of Hans Crescent in Chelsea. His elder brother Maurice Levy was also a Liberal politician and was created a Baronet in 1913.

HASTINGS CEMETERY, SUSSEX, Sussex, United Kingdom

TWELLS, Worker, ALICE, 9223. Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. 3 November 1917. Grave Reference: L. D. K28.

HERNE BAY CEMETERY, Kent, United Kingdom

ROBINETTE, Staff Nurse, CAROLINE AMELIA, R/741. R R C. 2/Reserve, Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. 30 March 1917. Grave Reference: T. 114. (see photo).

HOLYBROOK MEMORIAL SOUTHAMPTON

PHILLIPS, Sister, J. Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. Drowned at sea (from H.S. "Asturias"), 21st March 1917. 

MANOR PARK CEMETERY, Essex, United Kingdom

REED, Worker, DOROTHY ANNIE, 18847. Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. Accidentally killed, 31st December 1917. Age 29. Daughter of Elizabeth A. Clarke (formerly Reed), of 30, Chester St., Kennington, London, and the late James J. Reed. Grave Reference: 130. 254.

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE (ST. ANDREW'S AND JESMOND) CEMETERY, Northumberland

WILSON, Member, JEMIMA, 3812. Gateshead Hostel, Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. Died of accidental injuries, 2 December 1917. Age 24. Daughter of James and Margaret Wilson, of Ingleston Cottage, Moniaive, Dumfriesshire. Grave Reference: Q. U. 364.

OAKHAM CEMETERY, Rutland, United Kingdom

HETTERLEY, Staff Nurse, HELEN. Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. 30 May 1917. Age 26. Daughter of George and Elizabeth Hetterley, of Station Rd., Oakham. Grave Reference: 30. 45.

RHYL TOWN CEMETERY, Flintshire, United Kingdom

ROBERTS, Staff Nurse, E. Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. 12 August 1917. Grave Reference: 1899.

SHENFIELD (ST. MARY) CHURCHYARD, Essex, United Kingdom

BATES, Sister, MADELINE ELSIE. Voluntary Aid Detachment. Died of wounds received in enemy air-raid, 22nd December 1917.  Age 35. Daughter of William John and Annie Maria Bates, of "Southover," Sturry, Kent. Born at Waltham Abbey, Essex in 1883.  See photo Debbie Cameron and obituary.  She was on leave from France and was visiting her aunt, Mrs Phillips. Sister Mary Verena, b. 1887.

SUNNINGDALE (HOLY TRINITY) CHURCHYARD, Berkshire, United Kingdom

PEEL, Chauffeuse, HELEN MAUD. Voluntary Aid Detachment. Died of sickness, 13 December 1917. Age 22. Daughter of William Charles and Augusta Peel, of 'Fairview', Sunninghill.  Her brother, Major H. Peel, D.S.O., M.C. also died in service. 

TIDWORTH MILITARY CEMETERY, Wiltshire, United Kingdom

LANGDALE, Nurse, MARY AGNES. Voluntary Aid Detachment. 9 February 1917. Age 39. Daughter of Arthur Langdale and of his wife Catherine de Bruyn, of 45, Church Rd., Barnes, London. Grave Reference: E. 163.

TOTTENHAM CEMETERY, Middlesex, United Kingdom

GARNER, Sister, A E C, 2nd/Res. G/198. Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. 12 March 1917. Grave Reference: C. 5759.

TOWER HILL MEMORIAL, London, United Kingdom

ARNOTT, Stewardess, SARAH JANE. S.S. "Hare" (Liverpool), Mercantile Marine. Drowned, as a result of an attack by an enemy submarine, 14 December 1917. Age 41. Daughter of William and Dora McLean (nee Leech). Born at Malahide, Co. Dublin. 

FITZPATRICK, Stewardess, MARY. S.S. "Garmoyle" (Glasgow), Mercantile Marine. Drowned, as a result of an attack by an enemy submarine, 10 July 1917. Age 62. Born at Cork. 

HIRD, Stewardess, AGNES. S.S. "Ava" (Glasgow), Mercantile Marine. Presumed drowned, 26 January 1917. Age 42. Daughter of William Yule, of 156, Stanley Rd., Bootle, Lancs., and the late Mary Ann Yule; Wife of the late Anthony Hird. Born at Liverpool. 

McDONALD, Stewardess, MARGARET. S.S. "City of Paris" (Glasgow), Mercantile Marine. Drowned, as a result of an attack by an enemy submarine, 4 April 1917. Age 49. Born at Greenock. 

McLEAN, Stewardess, ELIZABETH. S.S. "City of Paris" (Glasgow), Mercantile Marine. Drowned, as a result of an attack by an enemy submarine, 4 April 1917. Age 43. Daughter of the late Lachlan and Mary McLean. Born at Govan. 

PHELAN, Stewardess, ELIZABETH ANNE. S.S. "Coningbeg" (Glasgow), Mercantile Marine. Presumed drowned, 18 December 1917. Wife of Patrick Alexander Phelan. 

TRENERRY, Stewardess, BRIDGET. H.M.H.S. "Asturias" (Belfast), Mercantile Marine. Died, as a result of an attack by an enemy submarine, or through vessel being mined, 24 March 1917. Age 65. Daughter of the late John and Mary Murphy; wife of the late Edmund Trenerry. Born at Dublin

UPHALL CEMETERY, West Lothian, United Kingdom

SIMPSON, Nurse, ELIZABETH. Territorial Force Nursing Service. 10 May 1917. Grave Reference: J. 33.

With thanks to Callan Chevin for telling me about Margaret Mayne, who was born in Ballinamallard, Col Tyrone, Ireland in 1882.  Margaret trained as a nurse and worked as a Staff Nurse in the North Staffordshire Infirmary from 1907 until the outbreak of WW1.  She died in Harwich Hospital on 20th April 1917.  A plaque to the memory of Margaret, who was awarded the Associate Royal Red Cross Medal for her work, was placed In the Chapel of the North Staffordshire Infirmary. Since 2015, this plaque has been situated in the Atrium at the Royal Stoke University Hospital, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, UK.


WILLINGHAM CEMETERY, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom

HART, Member, SARAH FRANCES RUBY, 3479. Women's Royal Air Force. 20 October 1919. Age 19. Daughter of George William and Mildred Hart, of High St., Willingham. Buried in the same grave is her sister, WILLIS, Dorothy Maud, Munition Worker. 7th July, 1916. Age 23. Grave Reference: Con. West. 191.
Additional Notes

Dorothy Marguerite Inman (1890 – 1917) – British

Dorothy Wethered was born in Harley Street, Marylebone, London in 1890.  Her parents were Frank Joseph Wethered, a doctor, and his wife Rosa Wethered, nee How.  

In 1909, Dorothy married Arthur Conyers Inman in Marylebone[LL1]  .  She joined Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps during WW1 - her rank was Worker and the equivalent rank of Worker for men in the British Army was Private.   Dorothy died on 11th March 1917, aged 26 and was buried in East Finchley Cemetery, London.

Dorothy Mortimer Watson – (1888 – 1917) – British Staff Nurse

Dorothy was born in Ilkley, Yorkshire in 1888.  Her parents were Christopher Holmes Watson, a yarn agent born in Norwich, and his wife, Mary, nee Stewart.  Dorothy had a brother, Ben Howard, born in 1875 and a sister Beatrice Balfour, born in 1883.  

Dorothy was educated at the Masonic Institution for Girls in Clapham, London, a boarding school for girls founded in 1788 by Bartholomew Ruspini, an Italian-born dentist.  The school was set up for the daughters of Freemasons who had died or fallen upon hard times.  Dorothy’s father died in 1894.  Schooling lasted for five years and during that time the girls did not return home for holidays and visits from family members was discouraged.

In 1910, Dorothy’s sister, Beatrice Watson married Alfred Daniel Kemp and went to live in Norfolk.

Dorothy trained as a nurse at Harrogate Infirmary. During the First World War she enrolled in the Territorial Force Nursing Service.  Entry into the TFNS was extremely strictly controlled – applicants had to be between the ages of 25 and 35, British subjects, well-educated and to have completed a three year training course as a nurse at an approved hospital.

After service at No. 2 Northern General Hospital in Leeds and in Leeds War Hospital, Dorothy was posted to Malta in 1916, where she worked at the St. John Military Hospital in Sliema.  This was originally a school but was requisitioned for use as a hospital in WW1.   Dorothy died on 13th March 1917 and was buried in the Pieta Military Cemetery in Malta.   She is also commemorated on the War Memorial in Harrogate.

Bridget Trenerry (1859 – 1917) - Irish

Bridget was born Bridget Murphy in Dublin in 1859.  Her parents were John and Mary Murphy.  Bridget married Edmund Trenerry, a customs officer and the couple went to live in Truro in Cornwall.  They had a son Henry, born in 1878, who became an electrician, and a son Francis, born in 1882.

During the First World War, Bridget served as a Stewardess with the Merchant Marine aboard the Hospital Ship HMHS “Asturias”, which was built by Harland and Wolff in Belgast for the Royal Mail Steam Packet Line and launched in 1907 for service on the Southampton to Buenos Aires route.  She was requisitioned for use as a hospital ship and, after conversion, served at Gallipoli, Egypt, Salonika (Greece) and on the cross-Channel route from France to Britain.  J.R.R. Tolkien was evacuated to Britain aboard HMHS “Asturias” in November 1916, suffering from Trench Fever.

On 20th March 1917, HMHS “Asturias” had disembarked 1,000 wounded at the port of Avonmouth near Bristol and was steaming towards Southampton when she was torpedoed by a German submarine.   She managed to beach near Bolt Head, in the vicinity of Salcombe in Devon, but 31 people were killed and 12 were missing.   Had the ship been full of wounded the loss of life would have been terrible.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission List of Female Casualties of the First World War, Bridget died on 24th March 1917 and is commemorated on the Tower Hill Memorial in London.  At the age of 68, Bridget was one of the oldest women to die serving during WW1.











Saturday, 29 July 2017

Review: "Nurses of Passchendaele Caring for the Wounded of the Ypres Campaigns 1914 - 1918" by Christine Hallett

Christine Hallett puts her wealth of experience as a trained nurse, historian and professor of nursing to very good use in this fantastic book.    This is not just a book about the nurses of the First World War – it also explains the background to the conflict and, as the title infers, to the battles for the little strip of Belgian soil known as the Ypres Salient.  The aim was to reclaim the Belgian ports of Ostend and Zeebrugge which were captured by the Central Powers early on in the war, and from whence their submarines inflicted terrible losses on allied ships (p. 93).   Drawing on, and quoting from, letters, accounts, diaries and books written by those who were there - American, Canadian and Australian as well as British - Christine builds us a very clear picture of what both patients and medical staff had to endure on the Western Front.

It is very difficult indeed to pick out just a few interesting references for the purposes of this review but I was particulary interested to learn about the Haldane Reforms that led to the creation of the Voluntary Aid Detachments in 1909 (p. 20) and the admission of women to Talbot House (p. 81). I was surprised to learn that American nurses were trained as anaesthetists which amazed the British and led to British nurses being instructed in the administration of anaesthetics (p. 91). The Epilogue (p. 162) reminds us that the nurses’ work was far from over when the Armistice was agreed in November 1918.

You will find in the book all the well-known women of WW1 such as Kate Luard, Helen Fairchild, Mabel St. Clair Stobart, Edith Appleton, Elsie and Mairi and Nellie Spindler and lots more British, Canadian and Australian nurses, as well as doctors, surgeons and specialists who cared for the wounded on the Western Front.  The book also covers many other aspects of tending war wounded, including Trench Foot, Gas victims, Gas Gangrene and so on, and gives detailed descriptions of the various types of hospital, Casualty Clearing Stations and hospital trains/ambulances in use on the Western Front.  Also described in detail are the challenging illnesses and infectious diseases the medical teams had to try to cure with very limited resources and in unbelievable conditions.

The weather just prior to the start of the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres), which began on 31st July 1917, was very stormy and several men were struck by lightning and killed before the Battle began (p. 101).   During the Battle, Kate Luard, one of the many nurses featured in the book wrote : “…dreaming in those cornfields and woods at St. Pol in June, I used to think a lot about this offensive, but I didn’t think it would be as stiff as this” (page 120 – from “Unknown Warriors”, p. 226).

If you thought that, as one gentleman informed me, women were kept safely out of danger behind the front lines, it may surprise you to learn that: “Patients often expressed their surprise that nurses were stationed so close to the battlefield. Many were indignant that women should be put in such danger, seeing it as ‘man’s job’ to go off to war – to protect the women and children who, naturally, should remain at home.” (page 121).  And you will find horrific details of the many times Allied hospitals, though clearly marked with red crosses, were deliberately shelled and bombed, causing death and destruction.

With copious notes, a bibliography, a detailed index and some wonderful black and white photographs, this is a fantastic book and really good value at £12.99.  I recommend that you read it.   My thanks to Christine Hallett for researching and writing this book and to Pen & Sword for publishing it. 

“Nurses of Passchendaele Caring for the Wounded of the Ypres Campaigns 1914 – 1918” by Christine E. Hallett, published by Pen & Sword, Barnsley, Yorkshire, 2017.  Available from good bookshops.  For further information please visit https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Margaret Ellen Evans (1877 - 1917) - British VAD

Kitty Armorel Trevelyan has been in the news lately.  Another woman of WW1 buried in the same Cemetery as Kitty – Wimereux Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France - is MARGARET ELLEN EVANS, who was a VAD.  Margaret was born in Stamford, Northampton in 1877.  Her parents were Daniel John Evans, a solicitor and banker, and his wife Emma, nee Thompson.  Margaret had seven siblings.

During WW1, Margaret joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment and worked at the 83rd General Hospital in France.   Margaret died on 22nd July 1917. The Grave Reference is III. A. 1.

Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission List of Female Casualties of the First World War, Find my Past and Free BMD.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Florence Missouri Caton (1876 - 1917) - Nurse

Remembering Nursing Sister FLORENCE MISSOURI CATON, of the Scottish Women's Hospital, who was attached to the Serbian Army.  Florence was the eldest daughter of American Naval Captain John Henry Caton and his wife, Elizabeth Caton, nee Evans, from Wales.   Born aboard her Father’s ship “The Missouri” off the coast of the West Indies in 1876.  Florence had a brother, John H., b. 1874, and a sister, Linda A., b. 1878.  When in Britain, the family lived in Wrexham, Denbighshire, Wales.  

Florence trained as a nurse at Wrexham Infirmary and in 1901 was working at the Hospital for Infectious Diseases in Pendleton, Salford.  She joined the Scottish Women’s Hospital in 1914 and was posted to Salonika.  She was among the nurses taken prisoner by the Austrian Army in November 1915.   After her repatriation, Florence took American nationality and returned to Salonika to nurse where she died on 15th July 1917.

Florence was buried in Lembet Road Military Cemetery in Salonika (Thessaloniki, Greece) - Grave Reference: 1599.  Has anyone visited the graves of the women who died while serving during the First World War and are buried in that Cemetery in Greece?

Sources: Commonwealth War Graves Commission List of Female Casualties of the First World War, Find my Past, Free BMD and http://scottishwomenshospitals.co.uk/friends-of-wrexham-museum/

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Dorothy Willis, nee Hart (1894 – 1916) and Sarah Frances Ruby Hart (1900 – 1919) - British women who died serving in WW1

Dorothy and Sarah Hart were sisters. Their parents were Geroge W. Hart, a florist, and his wife, Mildred Ann, nee Garnar.  The Hart children were:  Dorothy, b. 1894, Hilda, b. 1895, Arthur, b. 1896, Gladys, b. 1898, Sarah Frances Ruby, b. 1900, Albert E., b. 1901, Mildred, b. 1903, Harold, b. 1904, Thomas, b. 1907, Regina, b. 1909 and Linda, b. 1910.   The family lived in the High Street in Willingham in the county of Cambridgeshire.

Dorothy married Albert E. Willis in Edmonton in September 1913.  Their son George E. Willis, was born in May or June 1914.   Dorothy worked in a munitions factory during the First World War and she died of TNT poisoning on 7th July 1916.   Dorothy’s sister, Sarah Frances Ruby Hart, joined the Women’s Royal Air Force as a Member.  Sarah died on 20th October 1919.  The sisters were buried together in Willingham Cemetery, Cambridgeshire, UK.

Women Members of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) and the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) were seconded to air bases run by the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service.  When the RFC and RNAS merged to form the Royal Air Force, it was decided to form a separate Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF).

Photograph reproduced by kind permission of Sarah and Dorothy’s relative, Helen Buckland and with thanks to Debbie Cameron who posted their story on the Facebook Page Remembering Women on the Home Front in WW1.

Sources:  Find my Past, Free BMD and
https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/research/online-exhibitions/women-of-the-air-force/womens-royal-air-force-wraf-1918-1920.aspx

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Kate Luard – a British Nurse at Passchendaele - review of "Unknown Warriors" Kate's letters home from the Western Front

Paperback edition “Unknown Warriors The Letters of Kate Luard RRC and Bar, Nursing Sister in France 1914 – 1918” (The History Press, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2017)

I was very pleased to see that Kate Luard’s First World War letters have been published in paperback form in time for the centenary commemorations of the Battle Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres, 31st July – 12th November 1917).  Chapter 5, pages 129 – 158 have Kate’s description of treating the wounded of Passchendaele. This is a timely reminder for me of Kate Luard’s work during the Battle and I have included Kate among the panels of an exhibition featuring people involved in the Battles of Messines (Mesen), Passchendaele and after – 1917 which will be on display at The Wilfred Owen Story Museum in Birkenhead, Wirral from the end of July 2017.

The paperback has exactly the same format as the hardback version published in 2014 and when I reviewed the book in 2014, I wrote the following:

‘If you think that the women who were nurses on the Western Front during the First World War were all safely tucked up well behind the lines and out of the line of fire, think again!  Many of them were awarded the Military Medal only 'earned under fire' as Kate Luard's book of her WW1 experiences tells us.

Field Marshal Viscount Allenby, who wrote the preface to the first edition, met Kate on a visit to her Casualty Clearing Station during the later stages of the Battle of Arras.  The Arras account (Chapter4) is of particular interest to me because my Great Uncle was killed there on Easter Monday, 9th April 1917.

In the introduction to the new edition of the book written specially by Christine Hallett and Tim Luard, we learn that Kate, who attended Croydon High School, was already a decorated war nurse by 1914, having trained in the 1890s at The East London Hospital for Children and King's College Hospital in London, joined the Army Nursing Service in 1900 and served for two years in South Africa during the Second Boer War (1899 - 1902). Kate was in her 40s and Matron of the Berks and Bucks County Sanatorium when she joined the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service on 6th August 1914.  She was mobilised and sent to France.

The book begins with a letter dated 17th October 1915, when Kate was with the British 1st Army commanded by Sir Douglas Haig. The first letter in the book was sent from a Casualty Clearing Station Lillers of which Kate was placed in charge after four months at a Base Hospital.  All of Kate's letters contain a great deal of information about what it was like for the soldiers and the nurses of the Western Front.  There is not one word of complaint and one cannot help but admire those nurses and the wonderful job they did saving lives under terrible conditions, without many resources.  It is interesting to contrast today's NHS with all our modern equipment, medication, hygiene and safety laws with what Kate and her fellow nurses had to put up with during WW1.

During moments of relative calm and occasional well-earned breaks from nursing, Kate describes picnics, tea parties and trips to visit the surrounding countryside and mentions the variety of flora and fauna (snowdrops, fly orchis, ferns, ox-eye daisies, birds, mosquitos) that provide welcome relief to the "waste of life and suffering" and "the mud that out-muds itself everywhere" that Kate dealt with daily.

Wherever they went "les Dames Anglaises" (the English women) in their nurses' uniform caused a stir - whether among the local population - the children following them about - or with the soldiers serving at the front who invited them to tea, showed them round, filled them in about the progress of the war and took them flowers.

Caroline and John Stevens have done a wonderful job putting together the letters Kate Luard wrote to her family while she was on the Western Front and preparing them to be read in the 21st Century.  This book is fantastic - it is as though Kate is with us today as we commemorate the centenary of the first global conflict ('insane and immoral' as Kate calls it) t that changed the world for ever.  I cannot help but agree with Kate's feeling on the war - she was after all called upon to try to help repair the damage done to many of the humans involved.’

Dipping into the book again, on page 39 you will find a description of the problems of Gas Gangrene in wounds (not to be confused with ‘Poison Gas’ as Kate explains).   The Canadian poet, doctor and artilleryman Colonel John McCrae suggested that the microbes that caused the problem were probably caused by the generous use of manure for agricultural purposes in the fields of northern France and Belgium. (GRAVES, Diane. “A Crown of Life The World of John McCrae” (Spellmount Ltd., Staplehurst, Kent, 1997).

And a snippet for my friend Elena Branca of the Italian Red Cross is in the Postscript Chapter at the end of the book on page 205, dated 8th February 1918: “…There is a large Labour Battalion of Italian soldiers working here, also Chinese and Indians…The Italian officer was horrified because I go about in a Trench Coat & Sou’Wester instead of white robes with large Croix Rouges (Red Crosses) on them as ladies of the Red Cross do in Italy…”

If you haven’t yet read “Unknown Warriors” I urge you to do so - it has a map of the Western Front drawn by Kate and lots of notes to help the reader to greater understanding.   It is outstanding and answered many of my own questions regarding conditions on the Western Front.   Her family must be very proud of Kate.

"Unknown Warriors The Letters of Kate Luard RRC and Bar, Nursing Sister in France 1914 - 1918", edited by Caroline and John Stevens, including the Preface to the1930 edition written by Field Marshall Viscount Allenby and an introduction to the modern version by Christine Hallett and Tim Luard, published by The History Press, Stroud, Glos, 2014 in hardback and in 2017 in paperback form.

British Women's Cricket Teams WW1

I know there were many women's football teams, such as The Dick Kerr's Ladies, who played charity matches and raised large sums of money for the wounded and the war effort during WW1, but I hadn't been able to find any cricket teams.

The MCC archivist tells me that there were no cricket matches played by women's teams during WW1.

However, historian Debbie Cameron found these photographs of some of the members of the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps during the First World War.  The suggestion was that they could play cricket with convalescing wounded.

Source:  Debbie Cameron's Facebook page Remembering Women on the Home Front in WW1 and the National Library of Scotland.  No name of photographer.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Dr Phoebe Chapple (1879 - 1967) – Australian; first woman doctor to receive the Military Medal

Born in Adelaide, Australia on 31st March 1879. Her father was headmaster of Prince Alfred School, Adelaide. Phoebe studied science, medicine and surgery at Adelaide University.
By the time WW1 broke out, Phoebe had gained a reputation as a skilled doctor, however the Australian government’s policies precluded her from military service.  In 1917, Phoebe travelled to Britain paying her own fare and joined the Royal Army Medical Corps.   Initially Phoebe became House Surgeon at the Cambridge Military Hospital in Aldershot.

As time went on, the British Army overcame its initial reluctance to allow women doctors to treat the wounded and in November 1917 Phoebe was posted to France, attached to a unit of Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps.  During an enemy air raid near Abbeville in May 1918, Phoebe’s calmness and care for those wounded, regardless of personal danger, led to her being awarded the Military Medal.  She was the first woman doctor ever to receive this decoration for bravery.  She then served as a Major in Rouen and Le Havre.

After the war, Phoebe went back to Australia to continue working as a doctor.  She died on 24th March 1967.

Find out more about the women who served during the First World War and were killed or died and are buried in cemeteries in Belgium and France, see the book “Women Casualties of the Great War in Military Cemeteries Volume 1: Belgium and France”, available from www.poshupnorth.com

With thanks to Stanley Kaye for telling me about Phoebe.

Source:  http://jmvh.org/article/a-woman-at-war-the-life-and-times-of-dr-phoebe-chapple-mm-1879-1967-an-australian-doctor-on-the-western-front/

The Military Medal, created on 25th March 1916, was a British Military Medal awarded to personnel of the British Army and other Services for bravery in battle on land.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Constance M. Hodges (1876 - 1917) - British

Constance M. Hodges of the Joint War Committee, died of blood poisoning contracted on duty on 23rd June 1917.  With thanks to Ciaran Conlan  for discovering this information.

Constance Mary Hodges was born in Liverpool in 1876.  At that time, Liverpool was in the county of Lancashire.   Her parents were James Hodges and his wife Sarah Margaret Hodges, nee Kent.  Constance had a sister, Maria M., born in 1861.  In 1881, the family were living in West Derby, Lancashire.  By 1891, James had died and Sarah and her daughters were living in Tranmere, Birkenhead, Wirral, Cheshire.
Constance joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment Joint War Committee in WW1.  She died on 23rd June 1917 at the age of 41 and was buried in. Ocklynge Cemetery in Eastbourne.  The inscription on her gravestone reads:  ‘In proud and loving memory of Constance Mary Hodges who on June 23rd 1917 gave her life for the wounded soldiers she nursed so devotedly’.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Winifred Shepherd (1882 – 1917) – British VAD

With thanks to Callan Chevin for finding Winifred and colouring her photograph for us. 

Winifred was born in Plymouth, Devon, UK in 1882. Her parents were Joseph James Shepherd and his wife Mary Elizabeth Shepherd, nee Anning.   Winifred had the following siblings:  John, b. 1874, Kathleen, b. 1875, Olive, b. 1877, Victor, b. 1888, Florence, b. 1889 and Muriel, b. 1892.   John, Kathleen and Olive became teachers.   Winifred joined a Voluntary Aid Detachment during the First World War and died on 17th June 1917 of an illness contracted while on duty. 

Winifred's name is not included on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission List of Female Casualties of the First World War so I do not know where she was buried.