With thanks to Bryan Boots for suggesting I include Annie here and for his help
When she was twenty-four, Annie qualified as a nurse of 'insane persons' (psychiatric nurse) and worked in hospitals around Britain including in London and Chester, before travelling around Europe as a personal nurse and companion.
Annie, who was also known as Nancy, was in France with a lady from Cardiff when war broke out, and immediately joined the Anglo French Nursing Expedition and was behind the lines in the first battle of the Marne. With occasional "leaves" she remained in France, serving on the Somme and at Verdun. Annie assisted with 229 operations in 7 days during the battle of Verdun. Annie invariably accompanied the troops up the line and on one occasion the ambulance in which she was travelling was shelled and she was wounded in the head and struck with a piece of shrapnel in the leg. She also came under shellfire while working in a French hospital. The strain led to a period of serious illness, but she insisted on returning to duty once she recovered.
|Annie in WW1|
According to French Genealogical sources, Annie married French ambulance driver Daniel Mistrick, on the Verdun battlefield. After the war she remained in Europe, working at a feeding station in Germany with the French army of occupation. The French government awarded her the Legion d'Honneur and Croix de Guerre. Annie also received war and victory medals from the British government but was never recognised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
In 1921, Annie returned to Newport to nurse her ailing mother in the family home at 23 West Street, but she was also seriously ill and died of kidney disease, Bright's disease, on 30th January 1921 aged 46. Although she is buried at St. Woolos cemetery, Annie currently does not have a war grave. Gwent Western Front Association are campaigning for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to put her on their register.
Ian Brewer, Annie's great nephew, has researched the life of Annie Brewer, published on BBC Cymru. She was also featured in BBC Wales television documentary entitled "Annie's War: A Welsh Nurse on the Western Front". On 30th January 2018, The Western Front Association unveiled a blue plaque on West Street in Newport. Guests at the unveiling included members of Mrs. Mistrick's family, Health Minister Vaughan Gething and pupils from St. Woolos primary school.
|The Blue Plaque in memory|
Sources: Find my Past, Free BMD< Information received from Bryan Boots, Lives of the First World War and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annie_Brewer