Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Staff Nurse Annie Winifred Munro of the South African Military Nursing Service

In 2014 I posted the following information about Staff Nurse Annie Winifred Munro of the South African Military Nursing Service.  I can now add a photograph of Annie, thanks to Sue Robinson of the Group Wenches in Trenches, the Roses of No Man's Land.

I just found this entry on page 56 of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission List of Female Casualties of WW1:

Staff Nurse Annie Winifred Munro from Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa, a member of The South African Military Nursing Service who died on 6th April 1917, at the age of 26. Annie was the daughter of William and Ellen Munro, of St. Patrick's Rd., Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg, Natal. She was buried in Glasgow Western Necropolis - Grave Reference: B. 1881A

By strange coincidence, my aunt was born on 6th April 1921.  According to my Mother, her Father returned from his service with the Royal Field Artillery in WW1 around Christmas 1919.  Audrey served in the  Women's Royal Naval Service during the Second World War and was at Fort Southwick, Portsmouth on D-Day.   She met and married a soldier from South Africa and went to live in Pietermaritzburg after the war where she died in the spring of 1948.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Remembering EMILY ADA PICKFORD, a music teacher from Penarth, Glamorgan, Wales, who died in a tragic motoring accident in France on 7th February 1919.

Emily was born in Wales in 1881.  Her parents were William Henry Pearn, a baker from Penarth, and his wife Emma Jane, nee Sadler.
Emily became a music teacher and Sundayschool teacher.  In 1907 she married Ernest Fergusson Pickford and they went to live in Windsor Rd., Penarth, Glamorgan.

Emily joined Lena Ashwell's Concert Party during the First World War.  Lena, an actress, theatre owner and producer, set up these touring groups to go and entertain the troops in the Western Front from 1915 – 1919, under the auspices of the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) and with the patronage of Princess Helena Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein, one of Queen Victoria’s grandchildren. 
Concert party groups usually consisted of between six and seven people - singers, a musician and an entertainer such as a ventriloquist.  On the night of 7th February 1919 one of the groups had been entertaining troops in Guoy, a village in the north of France in the Departement of Aisne.  The group were in two cars travelling back to their headquarters in Abeville along the tow-path beside the River Somme, when there was an unfortunate accident.  One of the cars slid on the icy tow-path and Emily and Frederick Taylor, a baritone singer with the group, drowned.  It is worth remembering that cars, tyres and brakes were not as sophisticated in 1919 as they are in the 21st Century.

Emily was buried in Abeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Abeville, Somme, France.  The Grave Reference is V. G. 23.  She is also remembered on the Memorial to the Men of Penarth who died in the First World War in Alexandra Park, Penarth.
When you have time, do look at this more extensive account of the accident:

Original source:  The Commonwealth War Graves Commission List of Female Casualties of the First World war

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Hertfordshire in WW1

An exhibition about the First World War opens at the British Schools Museum in Hitchin in  Hertfordshire on 16th February 2018.   To find out more please see the Museum's website

The British Schools Museum
41 - 42, Queen Street
Hitchin, Hertfordshire

To coincide with that exhibition, I went through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission List of Female Casualties of the First World War looking for Hertfordshire links, with the following results:


ROSKELL, Nurse, GERTRUDE LUCINDA, 5540. 17th Gen. Hosp., Voluntary Aid Detachment. Died of appendicitis, 31 October 1915. Age 38. Daughter of John Burrow Roskell and Gertrude Roskell, of Cronkley, Knebworth, Herts. Grave Reference: Q. 538.


POPE, Nursing Sister, CICELY MARY LEIGH. Voluntary Aid Detachment. 25 June 1921. Age 31. Daughter of Frances A. Pope, of 12A, Kensington Mansions, Earls Court, London, and the late Rev. W. A. Pope. Born at Redbourn, Herts. Grave Reference: C. 2.


HARROLD, Worker, (Waitress), HELEN CHARLOTTE, 50021. Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. 29 October 1918. Grave Reference: YB. 46.


HUDSON, Member, FRANCES LOUISA, 18072. No. 4 Stores Depot, Women's Royal Air Force. Died of sickness, 19 February 1919. Age 22. Daughter of Arthur and C. M. Hudson, of 2, Brookside, Hunton Bridge, King's Langley, Herts. 


CHADWICK, Nurse, HILDA. Voluntary Aid Detachment. 2 November 1918. Grave Reference: Mil. I. 5.

DAY, Member, CHARLOTTE ANNIE, 24165. R.A.F. Records (Blandford), Women's Royal Air Force. Died of pneumonia, 30 November 1918. Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Day, of St. Albans. Grave Reference: E. I. 25.
I wonder if any of those graves receive visitors?

Saturday, 3 February 2018

REVIEW OF “PEACE LILY” by Hilary Robinson and Martin Impey (Strauss House Productions, 2018)

I first found out about this wonderful book on Facebook*.  I must admit the book really took my breath away – the pictures, painted by Martin Impey (who did the illustrations for the book “War Horse”), are beautiful and the story, written in verse by Hilary Robinson, is very poignant.  I hold my hand up – I was moved to tears.  Although this book has been written to help children understand the admirable contribution of women to the First World War effort, I am certain that it will appeal to people of all ages.  The story centres around some children growing up in a village in Britain during the pre WW1 years in a very, very different world to that we know today.  For the characters in the book, who go on to participate in the conflict, there is a happy ending and I really loved the ‘photograph album’ at the very end of the book.

I feel this book is very important.  Why?   I suppose, at heart I am still the three year old staring at Grandpa’s print of “Goodbye Old Man” by Fortunino Matania, wondering what on earth happened to the poor horse.  Grandpa was an Old Contemptible with the Royal Field Artillery and I have commemorated the First World War all my life, yet it was not until I began researching six years ago for a series of commemorative exhibitions in the Centenary years that I realised the extent to which women were involved.  I had no idea quite so many died or were killed while serving either – “Peace Lily” goes a long way to putting that right.

“Peace Lily” costs £8.99 and is to be launched on 8th March 2018 to coincide with International Women’s Day and as an aid for the schools programme visiting the Battlefields of Ypres and The Somme.  There are other books by Robinson and Impey in this delightful series about the First World War and I for one am going to buy copies of them all for the young (and not so young) members of my family who I know will love them.

For more information, please see

 Lucy London, February 2018