Wednesday, 16 April 2014

"Lest we forget Britain's women war dead" - Scottish Daily Mail, 27th February 2014

Many thanks to the "Daily Mail" for printing my letter in the "Scottish Daily Mail".   I received a follow-up letter this morning, which the newspaper offices in London kindly forwarded to me.

A gentleman from Scotland has sent me a letter written by a nurse who served on the Western Front during the First World War.  The letter, given to him by a neighbour who was related to the nurse, refers to the funeral of the Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps female personnel who were killed during the air-raid on 29th - 30th May 1918 - the night the YMCA volunteer Betty Stevenson, who is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery, was also killed.

I don't think it is generally known that many women served on the Western Front during WW1. They worked as doctors and nurses but also as administrators, clerks, telephonists, waitresses, cooks and drivers - doing work that freed men to serve on the front line.   At that time, women were not given full military status - they were divided into sections - officials (equivalent to officers), forewomen (sergeants), assistant forewomen (corporals) and workers (privates).

More than 57,000 women joined the WAAC or the QMAAC from January 1917 to November 1918.

The women who died in uniform during WW1 who are buried in Commonwealth War Grave Military Cemeteries in Belgium and France came from all over the world to help out.  Their names are listed on the CWGC website and they are buried in the following Cemeteries:

Belgrade Cemetery, Namur, Belgium (1 woman)
Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium (1 woman)

Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France (15 women)
Asnieres-sur-Oise Communal Cemetery, Val d'Oise, France ((1 woman)
Bagneux British Cemetery, Gezaincourt, Somme, France (3 women)
Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France (1 woman)
Bourges (St. Lazare) Cemetery, Cher, France (1 woman)
Caudry British Cemetery, Nord, France (1 woman)
Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France (19 women who died in service and 1 civilian - wife of a seriously ill soldier who died while visiting her husband, who is buried in the same cemetery)
Godewaersvelde British Cemetery, Nord, France (1 woman)
Janval Cemetery, Dieppe, Seine-Maritime, France (1 woman)
Le Treport Military Cemetery, Seine-Maritime, France (1 woman)
Les Baraques Military Cemetery, Sangatte, Pas de Calais, France (3 women)
Levallois-Perret Communal Cemetery, Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, France (1 woman)
Lille Southern Cemetery, Nord, France (1 woman)
Lillers Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France (1 woman)
Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France (6 women, two of whom were killed in an enemy air raid on 30th September 1917 - Agnes Climie and Daisy Coles)
Malo-les-Bains Communal Cemetery, Nord, France (1 woman)
Mazargues War Cemetery, Marseilles, Bouches-du-Rhone, France (3 women)
Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Treport, Seine-Maritime, France (3 women)
Sezanne Communal Cemetery, Marne, France (1 woman)
St. Pol British Cemetery, St. Pol-sur-Ternoise, Pas de Calais, France (1 woman)
St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France (7 women)
St. Sever Cemetery, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France (6 women who died in service and one civilian. These were known as "Lady Helpers" and in this case was Dame Lucy Innes Branfoot who worked at the Lady Mabelle Egerton's Coffee Stall on St. Sever Station.)
Ste. Marie Cemetery, Le Havre, Seine-Maritime, France (18 omen)
Terlinchthun British Cemetery, Wimille, Pas de Calais, France (9 women)
Tourgeville Military Cemetery, Calvados, France (1 woman)
Vauxbuin French National Cemetery, Aisne, France (1 woman)
Wimereux Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France (13 women - one of whom - Volunteer Rubie Pickard, a VAD, was aged 67 and worked in the Department that supplied British military hospitals with daily newspapers).

As I have mentioned before, many other women were killed or died in uniform during the First World War.  They are buried in Commonwealth War Graves Cemeteries throughout the world.   Next time you visit a WW1 Cemetery, please have a look to see if you can find any of the women buried there.


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