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:

Monday, 20 February 2017

Portuguese Women in WW1

Commemorating the contribution of Portugal in WW1, I included Portuguese poet Florbela Espança in Volume 1 of Female Poets of the First World War.

Britain and her Allies persuaded neutral Portugal to impound 36 German ships moored off Lisbon, which they did on 24th February 1916.  As a consequence of that action, Germany declared war on Portugal on 9th March 1916.  Portugal are England’s oldest ally, dating back to the days of John O’Gaunt when the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance (or Aliança Luso-Britânica) was ratified at the Treaty of Windsor in 1386.   Portugal sent men, equipment and medical personnel to help the Allies during WW1. 

As with other countries of the world during the First World War, the women of Portugal, led by the wives of influential men, Army officers and members of the old aristocracy, mobilised and created or joined various organisations set up to help the soldiers and their wives and families, as well as orphaned children.   One of those organisations was the Portuguese Women’s Crusade (CMP) founded on 20th March 1916 by Elzira Dantas Machado, wife of the President of the Republic.  Their daughter, Maria Francisca Machado, trained as a nurse and went to the Western Front to care for sick and wounded Portuguese soldiers.    Dr. Sofia da Conceicão Quintino was a Portuguese physician who organised the training of nurses.

Other women who led the war effort were Dr Adelaide Cabete (1867 – 1935)a physician, Ana de Castro Osóno (1872 – 1935), a writer and journalist and Maria Veleda (1871 – 1955), a writer and teacher.  Among other items, warm clothing was collected and knitted to send to the troops on the Western Front.

The Portuguese Red Cross recruited “lady nurses” who had to be aged between 20 and 40 who were physically fit, literate and “of good civil behaviour and perfect moral dignity”.   They also set up a network of “War Godmothers” led by Sofia Burnay de Melo Breyner (1875 – 1948).   A Prisoner of War Committee - Committee to Aid Military and Civil Portuguese Prisoners of War was also set up, with the mothers, daughters, wives and sisters of serving troops encouraged to join.  Livia Fachada whose husband was a POW set up a Committee for the Protection of Portuguese War Prisoners in 1918 in Lisbon.


With thanks to Willy de Brouwer, Sabine Declercq and Mark Bristow via Facebook for additional information.