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

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

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

With thanks to Stanley Kaye for telling me about Phoebe.


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.


Saturday, 3 June 2017

Princess Patricia of Connaught (1886 - 1974)

Did you know we had a Princess Patricia in the British Royal Family?  Victoria Patricia Helena Elizabeth was one of Queen Victoria’s granddaughters.  She was born on 17th March 1886 in London.  Her Mother was Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia and her Father was Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, third son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (no wonder the Royal Family changed their name during the First World War).

Princess Patricia was a bridesmaid at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of York – the future King George V and Queen Mary.

Patricia travelled with her family to Canada in 1911 when her Father was appointed Governor General of Canada.   Her portrait was on the One Dollar note of the Dominion of Canada issued in March 1917.

When the War broke out, Canada answered the call immediately. Montreal millionaire  Andrew Hamilton Gault – who had served with the Royal Canadian Rifles in South Africa – decided to found a unit of elite troops who had already experienced action. He raised a regiment of light infantry and asked permission to use Princess Patricia’s name.  So Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry came into being and the princess was their Colonel-in-Chief until her death.  

She designed and embroidered a banner for the regiment to carry into battle  Princess Patricia also designed the cap badge and collar badges for the regiment – depicting a single daisy, in honour of Hamilton Gault’s wife, Marguerite.

The Regiment attended and the band played at Princess Patricia’s wedding in 1919 to commoner The Hon. Alexander Ramsay, after which she gave up her royal title and became Lady Patricia Ramsey.

The Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry Regiment still exists in Canada today, with their HQ in Edmonton – 
Photo:  Presenting the Colours

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Helen Hetterley, QAIMNS (1891 - 1917) - British

Staff Nurse HELEN HETTERLEY of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service died on 30th May 1917.
Helen was born on 4th May 1891. Her parents were George, a butler, and Elizabeth Hetterley, nee Kirby, who lived in Station Rd., Oakham.  Helen’s siblings were: Lilian, b. 1889, Phillis, b. 1890, Hilda, b. 1893, Sybil, b. 1897, Charles, b. 1900, Marjorie, b. 1902, Humphrey, b. 1903 and Herbert, b. 1906. 
Helen trained as a nurse and in 1911 was working as a children’s nurse with a wealthy family in London.  During WW1, Helen worked at the Military Hospital in Canterbury where she contracted T.B.  After initial treatment, when nothing further could be done for her, Helen returned home, where she died on 30th May 1917.   Helen was buried in Oakham Cemetery in Rutland - Grave Reference: 30. 45.

Helen’s cousin, Sergeant Joseph Hetterley, joined the Army Service Corps in March 1915 and served with the 2nd Northumberland Field Ambulance on the Western Front.  He served during the Second Battle of Ypres and was killed in July 1915.

Sources:  Commonwealth War Graves Commission List of Female Casualties of the First World War; Find my Past and and with thanks to Callan Chevin who found the photograph of Helen and of her grave.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Alice Palmieri (1872 – 1917) – British subject, nurse

Alicia was a British subject born in 1872 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She trained at the New York City Hospital and was later Superintendent at the Yellow Fever Hospital, Havana, Cuba under Major General William Crawford Gorgas, US Army Medical Corps.

Alicia met her future husband, Jean Baptist Palmieri (born 1/3/1868 in Ponce, Peurto Rico), while serving in the Spanish-American War in 1898.

On 29th April 1915, Alicia was one of five VAD nurses who left Waterloo Station in London to travel to Kragujevac, Serbia via Salonica.  'The Ladies Field' of 23rd October 1915 reported on the event:
“Sister Palmieri nursed the typhus-stricken Serbians at Kragujevac under conditions calculated to daunt the bravest. Subsequently they were able to move into two buildings formerly used as stables, after having the floors cemented and the whole place fumigated and white-washed. Sister Palmieri is now temporarily in France”.

Alicia was posted to the Russo-Serbian Unit in September 1916 and worked as a nurse at Petrograd, Russia.  She died on 15th May 1917 in hospital in Petrograd and is commemorated on the Archangel Memorial in Russia.   Her next of kin was listed as Miss McMann, 21 Woodfield Crescent, Paddington, London.

Alicia’s husband joined the American Army in September 1918 in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas. He was a naturalised American citizen and a government employee, living at 222 Camargo Street, San Antonio. He gave his nearest relative as Marjorie Palmieri (born 27th January 1912). Marjorie’s mother’s maiden name was given as Vandewil which could mean that was possibly Alicia’s maiden name. 

Jean Baptist served in Belgium and returned to New York from Le Havre on the 23rd November 1920 aboard the SS La Savoie. When he applied for a passport in 1921, giving his address as Santurce, Porto Rico.

From the Commonwealth War Graves Commission List of Female Casualties of the First World War: 

ARCHANGEL MEMORIAL, Russian Federation

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

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Ethel Locke-King (1864 - 1956) - British businesswoman

Ethel was born Ethel Gore-Brown in 1864 in Tasmania where her father, Sir Thomas Gore-Brown was Governor.  In 1894, Ethel married Hugh Locke-King and they went to live at “Brooklands” in Weybridge, Surrey. Shortly after their marriage, Ethel and Hugh purchased a hotel called “Mena House” just outside Cairo in Egypt which had formerly been a hunting lodge.  They made it into a luxury hotel and added a golf course on the advice of a friend – Alice Gress.    

They began their married life by farming the Brooklands estate but Hugh was passionately interested in motor racing and soon began building a race track on their land. The Motor Car Act of 1903 in Britain restricted motor vehicles to a 20 miles per hour speed limit which meant that trials between motor vehicles could not take place on public roads.

The earliest mention of a trial between motor vehicles was recorded as being from Paris to Rouen in July 1894, which was followed in 1895 with a race between Paris and Bordeaux.

Ethel took over the supervision of the development of the Brooklands racing circuit and aerodrome when the hard work involved in organising the construction adversely affected her husband’s health. Ethel’s family helped out, lending sufficient money to pay off debts incurred by the building work. Brooklands Motor Racing Circuit and Aerodrome was opened on June 1907 with a luncheon for motor car manufacturers.    On 17th June 1907, Ethel led the inaugural procession of cars on to the track in her Itala car.  The first race was held on 6th July 1907 and around ten thousand people attended the event.   Women were not allowed to race but in 1908 the Ladies Bracelet Handicap was run with nine entrants.  The winner was Muriel Thompson in an Austin, with Ethel Locke-King in the Italia second and Christobel Ellis in an Arrol-Johnston third.   The Brooklands Automobile Club then banned women drivers until 1928.  A similar ban was imposed on women's football teams after WW1.

During the First World War, Ethel Locke-King (seen here on the right) was Assistant County Director of Surrey, UK. She was responsible for establishing and organising twelve auxiliary military hospitals, one of which was in their home Brooklands House and is now Brooklands College.  Several of the other hospitals were in houses owned by Hugh Locke-King.  Ethel oversaw the management of 700 volunteers in nineteen Voluntary Aid Detachments.  Mena House Hotel in Egypt was requisitioned for use by the Australian Army during WW1.

For her work during the conflict, Ethel was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1918.

If you have not already visited Brooklands, I can highly recommend it.  The banking was absolutely incredible and would never be permitted in Formula One today.   After the death of her husband in 1926, Ethel continued to farm the Brooklands estate, with particular interest in their herd of Guernsey cattle.  After Hugh Locke King’s death in 1926, Dame Ethel continued to play an active role in the Brooklands track company until its sale to new investors in 1936.  She died in 1956.

The famous British race track, which was the first purpose-built circuit for racing motor cars in the world, is the subject of a temporary exhibition being held at Brooklands Museum in April 2017.  The Exhibition, which is organised by the Surrey Museums Partnership together with 43 Surrey museums, will to mark Surrey Museums Month. The theme of this year’s Museums Month, held annually. This year’s theme celebrates the history of the county’s “Surrey Women”.

To find out more about the exhibition at Brooklands please see their website

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Remembering Margaret Mayne who died on 20th April 1917

With grateful thanks to Callan Chevin for information about Margaret Mayne, who was born in Ballinamallard, Co. 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.

Margaret's name is not on my copy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission List of Female Casualties of the First World War.  If anyone knows more about Margaret, please get in touch.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Sinking Of HMHS Salta - 10th April 1917

Proving just how dangerous crossing the Channel was in WW1, His Majesty’s Hospital Ship ‘Salta’ hit a mine and sank on 10th April 1917, going down in under ten minutes.  Among those who died were 9 nurses of the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Reserve, 42 Royal Army Medical Corps personnel and 79 crew members.

HMHS ‘Salta’ was on her way from Britain to the port of Le Havre in France to collected wounded to transport them to Britain for treatment.

The ship was a passenger liner built by French ship builders Societe de Forges et Chantier de la Mediterranee at Seyne-sur-Mer in Var.   She was run by the Societe General de Transport Maritime Steam and requisitioned by the British Admiralty in 1914 to be converted into a hospital ship.  

The nurses who died were buried in the Saint 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.

More information can be found in Women Casualties Of The Great War In Military Cemeteries - Volume 1: Belgium & France

ISBN 978-1-909643-26-086 pages with black and white photographs
perfect bound paperback
Selling price £6.00 plus postage and packing

Monday, 20 March 2017

Hospital Ship HMHS ‘Asturias’ sunk 20th – 21st March 1917 off Start Point in the English Channel

Remembering today those who died as a result of the sinking of the ‘Asturias’ on the night of 20th – 21st March 1917, among them were two women:

Bridget TRENERRY, aged 64, Stewardess on HMHS "Asturias" (Belfast), Mercantile Marine.
Bridget died on 24th March 1917, as a result of an attack by an enemy submarine.  Daughter of the late John and Mary Murphy; wife of the late Edmund Trenerry.  Bridget is commemorated on the HOLLYBROOK MEMORIAL, SOUTHAMPTON, Hampshire, UK

Bridget was born Bridget Murphy in 1853 in Dublin.  She was married to Edmund Trenerry, a Customs Officer in Falmouth in September 19871 and the family lived in Truro in Cornwall in 1881.    Edmund and Bridget had two sons – Henry, born in 1878 and Francis, born in 1882.  In 1891 the family were living in Southampton and by 1901, Edmund had retired and they were living in Portswood, Hampshire.

And Nursing Sister Jessie Josephine PHILLIPS, a 28-year old Staff Nurse with the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, who drowned at sea (from HMHS "Asturias") on 21st March 1917 and commemorated on the TOWER HILL  MEMORIAL in London.  Jessie was awarded the Royal Red Cross Medal during WW1.

Jessie was born in Mooltan, Bengal, India on 21st March 1889.  Her father was Frederick William Phillips, a Police Superintendent, and his wife Josephine Maud Phillips, nee Laville.
On the night of 20th – 21st March 1917, HMHS ‘Asturias’ was on her way from the port of Avonmouth, near Bristol, to Portsmouth on the south coast of England.  She had just unloaded a thousand wounded men to be transferred to hospitals in Britain. She was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-Boat off the south coast of Devonshire.   The crew managed to beach the ship near Bolt Head.

‘Asturias’ was another of the passenger liners requisitioned by the British Admiralty for use as a hospital ship during the First World War. Originally in service with the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company ‘Asturias’ was built by Harland and Wolff Shipbuilders of Belfast, who built the Titanic and her sister ships, and sailed the route between Southampton and Buenos Aires in The Argentine.   She was sent to be re-fitted as a hospital ship and served during the Gallipoli Campaign, in Egypt and Salonika.

In 1915, ‘Asturias’ was the first hospital ship to be targeted by German U-boats.  A torpedo hit her but did not detonate.   A press release issued by the German Government at the time explained that ‘Asturias’, clearly marked as a Hospital Ship, had been wrongly identified as a target.

In October 1916, British writer and poet J.J.R. Tolkien, who was taken ill with Trench Fever while serving on the Western Front, was evacuated to Britain on HMHS ‘Asturias’.

In January 1917, with the British naval blockade causing food shortages and their progress on the Western Front slowed, Germany announced that she would be waging unrestricted submarine warfare on shipping travelling to Britain.  A Declaration issued on 31st January 1917 by the German Government and reported in the British press announced:

“The German Government can no longer suffer that the British Government forwards troops and munitions to the main theatre of war under cover of the Red Cross and if therefore declares that from now on no enemy hospital ship will be allowed in the sea from Flamborough Head to Tershelling on the one hand and Ouesant (Ushant) and Land’s End on the other.  If in this sea zone after the expiry of the stated time any enemy hospital ship is encountered, it will be considered as a v(“Diss Express, 6th April 1917)

Following the sinking of the HMHS “Asturias”, the British “Government announced that measures would be adopted to bring home to the German Government the shameful character of the outrages committed under their orders.”  (Globe, Saturday, 7th April 1917)


Commonwealth War Graves Commission  List of Female Casualties of the First World War; British Newspaper Archive;  and

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.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Margaret Smith Dewar (1883? - 1917) - British Staff Nurse from Scotland

Margaret was born in Scotland in 1883, although according to the Census records I have been able to find, she may have been born in 1879.  Her parents were William and Jane Dewar and she had four brothers – John (b. 1884), William L. (b. 1882), Peter (b. 1886) and James (b. 1889).

Margaret must have trained as a nurse because she served with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals at Royaumont Abbey in France from 16th August 1015 until 5th February 1916.  And as she is commemorated on a plaque in the Elder Memorial Chapel of the Western Infirmary in Glasgow, she may well have trained there.  She also worked at Brighton Hospital.

Margaret is also commemorated on the War Memorial in Gemiston, Transvaal, South Africa, near Johannesburg, so it seems the family may have emigrated there at some stage.   She is also remembered in a book entitled “Heroes of South Africa” and her mother's address as her next of kin was in Gemiston, South Africa.

Margaret joined the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service and served with the 37th Hospital, which was established in June 1916 in Vertekop (now called Skydra), near Manastir in Salonika, attached to the Serbian Army.   The Field Hospital at Vertekop was clearly marked with large red crosses and was quite a long way from the Front Line.   A German bombing raid was carried out on 12th March 1917 on Monastir and also targeted the hospital.  Margaret was one of the nruses killed while attempting to protect patients. She was Mentioned in Despatches for her bravery.  
Nursing Sister Dodds, of the Territorial Force Nursing Service, who trained at Willesden Infirmary, was wounded during the attack, and Nursing Sisters Ethel Garrett and Annie Rebecca Colhoun were awarded the Military Medal for their bravery during the attack.

Mary and Margaret were buried with full military honours in Vertekop. After the war, their bodies were moved to Mikra British Cemetery in Kalamaria, Greece, where eleven other nurses who died during WW1 are also buried.

Margaret was posthumously awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palm.  The medal was first created in 1915 and consists of a square-cross medal on two crossed swords, hanging from a ribbon with various degree pins. The decoration was awarded during World War I, again in World War II, and in other conflicts. The Croix de Guerre was also awarded to foreign military forces allied to France.

The Croix de Guerre may either be awarded as an individual or unit award to those soldiers who distinguish themselves by acts of heroism involving combat with the enemy. The medal is awarded to those who have been "mentioned in dispatches", meaning a heroic deed or deeds were performed meriting a citation from an individual's headquarters unit. The unit award of the Croix de Guerre with palm was issued to military units whose members performed heroic deeds in combat and were subsequently recognized by headquarters.

Photograph and additional information about the Croix de Guerre kindly provided by Steve Dewar, Margaret’s Great-Nephew.

Mary Bethia Marshall (1886 – 1917) - British Nurse from Scotland with the QAIMNS WW1

Mary was born in Gutcher, North Yell in the Shetland Islands on 1st June 1886.  Her parents were James Marshall and his wife Catherine, nee Hoseason.  Mary’s siblings were John James, William R. and Agnes.

Mary trained as a nurse and from 1st October 1908 till 31st January 1913, she worked at the Royal Southern Hospital in Liverpool, where she was in charge of the Tropical Ward.  After that she worked in a Cancer Hospital in London, in the Children’s Hospital in Heswall and in the Merchant’s Hospital in Liverpool.   She joined the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service during WW1 and served with the 37th Hospital which was established in June 1916 in Vertekop (now called Skydra) near Manastir in Salonika, attached to the Serbian Army.   The Field Hospital at Vertekop was clearly marked with large red crosses and was quite a long way from the Front Line.   For her bravery in trying to save her patients, Mary was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palms and was Mentioned in Despatches. 

Mary Bethia Marshall is commemorated on the War Memorial in Heswall, Wirral, UK and on the plaque dedicated to the nurses of WW1 in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral.

Another nurse killed in the same air raid also attempting to protect her patients was Staff Nurse Margaret Smith Dewar who was also Mentioned in Despatches for her bravery.   Nursing Sister Dodds, of the Territorial Force Nursing Service, who trained at Willesden Infirmary, was wounded during the attack, and Nursing Sisters Ethel Garrett and Annie Rebecca Colhoun were awarded the Military Medal for their bravery during the attack.

Mary and Margaret were buried with full military honours in Vertekop. After the war, their bodies were moved to Mikra British Cemetery in Kalamaria, Greece, where there are


Saturday, 11 March 2017

Dorothy Marguerite Inman (1890 - 1917) - British

Dorothy Marguerite 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.  The family lived in Harley Street, London.  

In 1909, Dorothy married Arthur Conyers Inman in Marylebone.  She joined Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps during the First World War as a Worker - for which the equivalent rank for men in the British Army was Private.   Dorothy died on 11th March 1917, aged 26 and was buried in East Finchley Cemetery, London.

According to researcher Debbie Cameron (thank you Debbie!), Dorothy's husband was a well known bacteriologist who was Pathologist to the Brompton Hospital for Consumption. He served in the British Army during the First World War as an Honorary Captain with the Royal Army Medical Corps(R.A.M.C.) and was Special Bacteriologist to the British Expeditionary Force during the War, working to develop vaccines.  Arthur died in France in 1926.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Mabel Edith Blencowe (1879 – 1917) – British

Mabel was born in Oxford in 1879, the third child of eleven born to John George Blencowe (1839 – 1992) and his wife Emma Blencowe, nee Young (1855 – 1938), six of whom survived.   John Blencowe was a master baker, pastry cook, confectioner and grocer.  After their marriage in December 1885, John and Emma ran a grocer’s shop in Oxford.  After the death of her husband, Emma Blencowe ran the business with the help of family members, adding a post office in 1899.   Mabel Edith and her sister Florence Blencowe trained as nurses. Florence worked at Northampton General Hospital in 1911.
In WW1, Mabel Edith joined the Territorial Force Nursing Service and after working as a Staff Nurse at Northampton General Hospital for nine months, she was sent to France where she died in the 7th General Hospital, St. Omer, France on 10th March 1917.   Mabel was buried in Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France, and is also commemorated on the nurses’ window in the north transept of York Minster and on her parents’ grave in the Cemetery of St. Sepulchre, Oxford.
You can see a photo of Mabel’s grave in France on Tanya Mortiner Birney’s website -

Note:  The Territorial Force was the name of the Territorial Army at the time of the First World War.  The Territorial Force Nursing Service was formed in 1909 by an act of Parliament as a sister organisation to the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service.   Members were civilian nurses who worked in hospitals in peacetime.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Mary Jane Pilkington Stuart Gartside-Tipping (1866 - 1917) - British

"The death occurred on March 4th 1917 "in the war zone in France, while on active service" of Mrs Mary Jane Pilkington Stuart Gartside-Tipping."

Mary was the daughter of Captain Walter Henry Stewart Flynn, R.A. and his wife Mary Elizabeth Pilkington, who were married in Westminster in March 1865.  Mary’s mother was related to William Pilkington, a Lancashire cotton mill owner.

Mary’s mother re-married after the death of Captain Flynn and her second husband was George Augustus Coombe, a surgeon and MP from Lancashire, who took his wife's maiden name and was knighted in 1893.  Sir George and Lady Mary Pilkington lived in Southport in Lancashire.

Mary married Henry Thomas Gartside-Tipping, the eldest son of Gartside Gartside-Tipping of Bolton and of Rossferry, Belturbet, Co. Fermanagh, in Ormskirk, Lancashire in 1890. They went to live on the Isle of Wight in "Quarr Wood" in Binstead, which Henry had inherited from his uncle the Reverend Vernon Tipping.  They had three children.   In 1911 the family was living in Geldston, Norfolk.

During the First World War Mary Gartside-Tipping worked for nearly a year at the Munitions Worker's Canteen, Woolwich, and in January 1917 joined the Women's Emergency Canteens (Compiegne), for service on the Western Front  in France.  The Women's Emergency Canteens were run by the London Committee of the French Red Cross.  Mary was accidentally shot by a deranged French soldier on 4th March 1917. The French military authorities did everything possible to express their sympathy.  The French medal the Croix de Guerre, which had been withheld from women since November 1916, was awarded to her and she was buried with full military funeral honours in Vauxbuin French National Cemetery, Aisne, France.

Lieutenant-Commander H. T. Gartside-Tipping returned to naval service during the First World War. A keen yachtsman, when he was killed at the age of 67, Henry was the oldest serving naval officer of that war.  He was killed on 25th September 1915 during naval operations in the North Sea off Zeebrugge on the coast of Belgium, serving in the Dover Patrol vessel H.M. Armed Yacht "Sanda".

Lt. Commander and Mrs Gartside-Tippings are also commemorated on the War Memorial at Southport, Lancashire.   

Sources:  Commonwealth War Graves Commission List of Female Casualties of the First World War,
The Times Digital Archive and

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Kitty Armorel Trevelyan 1898 - 1917

One hundred years ago, on 27th February 1917, Kitty Armorel Trevelyan died in Wimereux, France after contracting Measles and developing Pneumonia.  She was 19 years old.  Kitty had volunteered at the outbreak of war, which would have been quite difficult for her as she was under age.  She joined the British Army Service Corps Canteens and was sent to France.  Kitty's parents were the late Captain Walter Raleigh Trevelyan from Dublin and his wife, Alice, who had re-married and become Mrs Sinclair.  Kitty lived with her mother in the village of Meany in Devon before the war.

Sue Robinson of the Group Wenches in Trenches The Roses of No Man's Land has been researching Kitty for many years and regularly visits Kitty's grave in Wimereux Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.   Sue has managed to get Kitty's name inscribed on the War Memorial in Meany and a special service of dedication is to be held there today - Sunday, 27th February 2017.

Along with Kitty in Wimereux Communal Cemetery, you will find the graves of some of the other women who died while serving during the First World War: Mildred Clayton-Swan, Emily Helena Cole, Isabella Duncan, Margaret Evans, Jessie Hockey, Nita King, Alice Lancaster, Rubie Pickard (who at 67 is among the oldest of the volunteers during WW1), Barbara St. John, Anna Whitely, Christina Wilson and Myrtle Wilson.  "We will remember them"

Sources:  Commonwealth War Graves Commission List of Female Casualties of the First World War and Sue Robinson of Wenches in Trenches The Roses of No Man's Land

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Success for Sue

Sue Robinson set up Wenches in Trenches The Roses of No Man’s Land to commemorate all the women of the First World War, in memory of her Grandmother who was a WW1 nurse.  Sue, who travels extensively giving talks and demonstrations about the role of women in WW1, as well as raising funds for memorials to them, has succeeded in getting the name of one of those women onto the War Memorial in her home town. 

Among the first journalists to write up Kitty's story from Sue's account was Plymouth Herald newspaper's Live News Editor Max Channon.  Kitty joined the Royal Army Service Corps Canteens Division and served in France.  She was taken ill and died on 27th February 1917, aged just 19.  Originally from Ireland, Kitty lived in England when war broke out and, like so many women the world over, she wanted to do her bit.  Kitty was buried in Wimereux Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, which is five kilometres north of Boulogne in France.  In that Cemetery you will find twelve other women who died serving during WW1, including that of Rubie Pickard, one of the oldest volunteers, who died in April 1916 at the age of 67.  Rubie, who lived in France, was a volunteer working for the newspaper department that supplied British newspapers to hospitals in France during the conflict.

Well done to Sue Robinson and Team Wenches in Trenches.  To find out more about Sue’s on-going work and/or to contribute please check out the website  The photo shows the commemorative bench and memorial to the women of WW1 organised by Sue at the Lochnagar Crater in France.

Another Sue who campaigned for the recognition of the role of women in WW1 was the late Sue Light, whose legacy is her wonderful website .  We know from Scarlet Finders that there were special hostels and accommodation for relatives able to travel to visit ill or wounded relatives who were serving on the Western Front.   The diary of another British girl – Betty Stevenson from Yorkshire (whose name is on the War Memorial in Harrogate) – also tells us about the visits of civilian relatives to the sick and wounded.  Betty was a volunteer with the YMCA who worked in France helping out in YMCA huts and driving visitors.  Betty was killed on the night of 30th May 1918 when a German plane returning from a bombing raid to Etaples in France jettisoned his bombs in a field.  Betty Stevenson is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, which is 27 kilometres south of Boulogne.  In that Cemetery you will find the graves of twelve other women who died or were killed while serving in WW1.  There are lots of women buried in British and Commonwealth and American Cemeteries in France which a lot of people don’t seem to realise.  You can find some of them, along with brief biographical details where available in a book, the details of which are here:

Travelling from Britain to France during the war was hazardous as submarines, mines and adverse weather conditions caused ships to sink and lives to be lost.

An interesting account of the UK ports in use during WW1 can be found here: