Monday, 13 March 2017

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. 

In Malta's Pieta Military Cemetery are the graves of four other women who died while serving during WW1 - three nurses and a doctor.

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