Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Book Review “The War Nurses” by Lizzie Page (Bookouture, an imprint of StoryFire Ltd., London, 2018)

"The War Nurses" is a fictional story based loosely on the activities of Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm, who nursed the wounded in Flanders during the First World War.

Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm were among the first women involved in the First World War that I researched for a commemorative exhibition about some of the amazing ‘Inspirational Women’ of WW1, so I was really pleased when Lizzie asked me to review her book about the ‘Angels of Pervyse’.  Apart from Pat Barker’s “Regeneration Trilogy”, “Warhorse” and “Birdsong”, I have not read a novel about WW1 for the past six years, as I have been reading factual accounts for research purposes.   This novel is therefore a welcome change for me. 

It is very difficult for people these days to imagine what life must have been like in 1914, when none of those things we all rely on existed: no Internet, social media, mobile phones, television, radio, air travel, holidays abroad, etc.  Ordinary folk did not have a telephone at home and newspapers and telegrammes were the main means of spreading news.  Many people never ventured outside their own village – the First World War changed all that.

“The War Nurses” is a work of fiction but Lizzie weaves an amazing and fascinating story, re-imagining what life must have been like for the two women. Lizzie puts herself in Mairi’s shoes, with inspiration from the true story of the four years the two women spent on the Western Front looking after the wounded.  Lizzie has obviously put her heart and soul into this book, to which she brings a very modern approach which, hopefully, will appeal to younger readers and spread the word at long last about all of the incredible women and their extensive involvement in The First World War.

A fascinating read.

Lucy London
July 2018

Jennie Jackson ("Young Kitchener") - a young girl from Lancashire who raised money for the fighting men during WW1

While I was researching a WW1 poet yesterday, I came across a reference to some poems about a young girl from Burnley, Lancashire, UK.  Jane, known as ‘Jennie’, Jackson, was also known as "Young Kitchener" for the work she did during the First World War collecting money to fund parcels for the fighting men.

Jennie Jackson was born on 27th December 1907.  Her parents were John and Kate Jackson and she had three brothers, all of whom served during WW1. William, the eldest, enlisted in the 3rd (Prince of Wales) Dragoon Guards on 31st October 1914.  Shortly afterwards, on 21st November 1914, Richard, the third son, volunteered to serve with the Shropshire Light Infantry.  John Samuel, the second son, joined the Royal Field Artillery on 29th October 1915.

If ever we needed proof that the First World War involved every man, woman and child in Britain, here it is.

The poems were written by Thomas Napoleon Smith, pen-name Tonosa. They were:  "Burnley's war flame (Jennie JACKSON), alias Y.K." and "Burnley's winning Jennie (Jennie Jackson)".

Thomas's son, Corporal Ewart G. Smith of the 2nd Infantry Brigade, Canadian Expeditionary Force, was killed in a trench on 27th September 1916.

My thanks to Andrew Mackay for sending me his photographs and information about Jennie. 

Find out more on Andrew's website:

The Photographs have been kindly supplied by Andrew Mackay from his private collection. 

Thank you Andrew.

An exhibition about poetry written by schoolchildren during the First World War is on display at The Wilfred Owen Story, Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, UK.

Friday, 13 July 2018

A wonderful tribute to Worker Mary 'May' Wylie of the Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps who died while serving in WW1

In an effort to persuade someone to visit the grave of Worker (equivalent to the male rank of Private) Mary 'May' Wylie of the QMAAC, who died on 9th July 1918 and was buried in Anfield Cemetery, Liverpool, UK, I wrote a letter to the "Liverpool Echo" who were kind enough to print the letter.

Here is what happened next: The Liverpool Scottish Association sent a message to my friend Sue Robinson of the group Wenches in Trenches The Roses of No Man's Land, saying: The Association was alerted by a recent letter to the 'Liverpool Echo' that today, 9th July 2018, was going to be the Centenary of the death in Oswestry of Worker Mary 'May' Wylie of Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps where she was serving on attachment to 3/10th (Scottish) Bn, Kings (Liverpool) Regiment.

She is buried in Anfield Cemetery. Consequently I conducted a short memorial service at the graveside and Kenny Whittaker played a lament. In July 1918 the Bootle Times noted that ".... May Wylie died for her country as surely as the gallant soldiers who fall in battle". A full report will appear in this Winter's newsletter. From the Liverpool Scottish Association via Sue Robinson.

My grateful thanks to "The Liverpool Echo", the Liverpool Scottish Association and Sue Robinson. Together "We will remember them" ALL.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Mrs Hilda Wynne (1884 - 1923) - British

Newspapers at the time of WW1 report that Hilda was ‘… probably the most decorated British woman of the First World War’.

Hilda was born in 1884 but I have been unable to find out more about her early life. According to the Peerage website, Hilda’s father was James Clifton Brown born in 1841 and a Colonel in the British Army. He was from Yorkshire and served as a Justice of the Peace (JP) in Essex, UK.  Hilda's mother was Amelia Wroe, who was apparently American. The Clifton Browns had ten children – Elsie, Howard, Edward, Louisa, Francis (who became a Vice Admiral), Mildred, Leonard, Douglas (who became a Colonel), Isla and Cedric who was born in 1887.

I can’t seem to find a Hilda and the marriages the four Clifton Brown girls made were not to anyone called Wynne. I found a Reginald Wynne who married a Hilda Brown in 1902, St. George’s Hannover Square, London. He died in Paris in 1913 and was a Colonel in the British Army who fought in the Boer War, which would tally with Hilda being a widow in 1917 when she went to visit America to raise funds to take an ambulance unit to Russia.

I read in one newspaper report about Hilda that her husband had been ‘a general’. According to the Red Cross website, a meeting was held at the Royal Automobile Club in London in September 1914, asking members to lend their vehicles for service as ambulances. Hilda and a man called Ivor Bevan (about whom I can find nothing!) formed the Bevan-Wynne Ambulance Unit and Hilda drove several of the vehicles to Belgium herself. She was based in Dixmunde, where she met up with Dr. Hector Monro and Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm, who also took a mobile ambulance unit to Belgium and France in 1914.

There is a mention of Hilda in Sarah Macnaughtan’s book about her war on two continents. And a photograph of Hilda was featured on the front cover of “The Sketch” on 2nd September 1915, with this report:

"Hilda Wynne in the trenches in the Western Front After service in Belgium, France and Italy, in 1917 Hilda went to America and raised funds for the Anglo Russian Bevan Ambulance Cars Unit."

At that time Hilda was living in West Chapel Street in Mayfair, London. She served in Russia until 1919 and was awarded the Kuaatan Order of St. George for her work with Russian Guards on the Kovel Front.

Hilda died penniless in Paris on 28th January 1923, having spent all her money on looking after the wounded.

Sources: Award from Russia and photograph from "The Sketch" newspaper of 2nd September 1915.

I am very grateful indeed to Sergio Sbalchiero for additional information about Hilda' and her war-time service:

"At the beginning of the war Hilda Wynne enlisted in the Hector Munro's Ambulance Corps operating on the Flanders front. There she met another volunteer, the Scottish banker Ivor Bevan. Together, they founded the Wynne Bevan Ambulance Corps. They operated on the Russian front from 1915 to 1917 in Galicia, Persia and Caucaso. In october 1917 they went to Italy and settled in Preganziol, a little town near Treviso, transporting the wounded on the Piave front. In june 1918, during the last Austrian offensive, they transported 840 Italian wounded. After the battle Hilda received a silver medal for valour and a cross of war. In Flanders she had been decorated with the Order of Leopoldo II and the Croix de Guerre. In Russia she received twice medals of the Order of St. George from the Tsar. She received also a medal of the Red Cross. An Italian officer said that she was 'a worthy follower of Florence Nightingale'."

My thanks also to Lynne Sidaway who tells me that Hilda's son was still alive aged 91 in 1995, living in Tennessee, America.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Some of the women who died or were killed during the First World War in July 1918

 July 1918



SMITH, Staff Nurse, F. E. SMITH, No. 2/ResS/1235. Staff Nurse Smith worked at the Military Hospital in Aylesbury, UK during WW1. She served with the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service and died on 1st July 1918.  Staff Nurse Smith was buried in Gorton Cemetery, Manchester, Grave Reference: P. C.E. 140.


MacDOWELL, Chauffeuse, MATILDA with theScottish Women's Hospital. Matilda died on 3rd July 1918 and was buried in Mikra British Cemetery, Kalamaria, Greece, Grave Reference: 1553.

KEMP, Staff Nurse, C. M. F. Kemp of the 40th British General Hospital. Staff Nurse Kemp was a member of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. She died on 4th July 1918 and was buried in Basra War Cemetery in Mesopotamia (now in Iraq) - Grave Reference: III. T. 2.

ELDER, Telephonist, ELIZABETH GRANT ELDER, No. G/2605 with the Women's Royal Naval Service. Elizabeth died on 6th July 1918 and was buried in Rosebank Cemetery, Edinburgh, UK - Grave Reference: K. 207.

MOSS, Driver, R M. MOSS, of the Women's Legion, attached to the Army Service Corps. Driver Moss died on 7th July 1918 and was buried in Canterbury Cemetery, Kent, UK - Grave Reference: R. 351.

EVANS, Member, NELLIE, 12410 of the Women's Royal Air Force. Nellie died of sickness on 7th  July 1918 at the age of 23.  Nellie was married to A. W. Evans, of Courtney Road., Drayton Park, Holloway, London. Grave Reference: Screen Wall. H.3. 859.


Worker (which is equivalent to the male rank of Private) May (Mary) Wylie, No. 6306 of the Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps, was attached to the 10th Reserve Battalion of The King's (Liverpool Scottish Regiment). May was born in 1898 in Bootle. Her parents were Hugh Wylie and his wife Emily Mary Wylie, nee Hodgson of Stanley Rd., Bootle.  May had the following siblings:  Harold, Margaret, Rose and Allan.    May died on 9th July 1918 at at Oswestry Military Hospital at the age of 20.  May’s body was returned home for her funeral and she was buried with full military honours in Anfield Cemetery, Liverpool - Grave Reference: I. U. 786.  May is also remembered on Bootle Civic Memorials in Linacre Council School and Liverpool (Anfield) Cemetery

STEWART, Staff Nurse, WILMA BRIDGES of the Territorial Force Nursing Service. Wilma died of phthisis on 10th July 1918. Her parents were Charles W. and Sarah Bridges Stewart, of Pembroke Crescent, Hove, Sussex. Grave Reference: On West boundary.

ROSS, Nursing Sister, ADA JANET of the 1st Gen. Hosp., Canadian Army Medical Corps. Ada died on 12th  July 1918, at the age of 50. Grave Reference: 2479.



GRANT, Worker, JESSIE, 21527. Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. Died of pneumonia, 13 July 1918. Age 25. Daughter of George and Bella Grant, of Rest Cottage, Kincraig. Grave Reference: In South-East corner.


YOUNG, Nurse, ADA ELIZABETH. Voluntary Aid Detachment. 15 July 1918. Age 33.
Daughter of the late Serjt. Maj. Young (5th Dragoon Guards) and Mrs. Young, of Dublin. 

DAW, Worker, WINIFRED, 7319. M.T. Depot (Sydenham), Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. 16 July 1918. Grave Reference: 11. 278

WELLER, Worker, ADA ELIZABETH, 39645. Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. 17 July 1918. Grave Reference: In East part.

STE. MARIE CEMETERY, LE HAVRE, Seine-Maritime, France
ASPDEN, Worker, DOROTHY, 30438. Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. 21 July 1918. Grave Reference: Div. 62. III. N. 6.


HILLS, Sister, MAUDE ELLEN. Territorial Force Nursing Service. Died of sickness, 22 July 1918. Age 43. Daughter of Edwin and Sarah Broadhurst Hills, of Cranbrook, Kent. Served in France. Grave Reference: H. 181321.


HASTINGS, Sister, H M. Territorial Force Nursing Service. 23 July 1918. Grave Reference: G2. 12.

YOUNG, Nurse, MARGARET CAMERON. 2nd Gen. Hosp., Voluntary Aid Detachment. Died of disease, 30 July 1918. Age 25. Daughter of Amelia and the late Thomas Young, of 37, Newington Avenue, Belfast. Grave Reference: I. F. 44.  See photo from Callan Chevin’s Fb page.

HORNER, Worker, VIOLET MAY, 45051. Hostel (Bristol), Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. 30 July 1918. Grave Reference: North-East of church.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Nursing Sister Mary Rodwell, QAIMNS

Sarah Reay, author of the fantastic book “The Half-Shilling Curate, A personal account of war & faith 1914-1918”, about her grandfather, Army Chaplain The Reverend Herbert Cowl, has given me permission to share this beautiful photograph of Sister Mary Rodwell with you.  The photograph from the author's own collection, is to be found on page 175 of the book.

Nursing Sister Mary Rodwell was the nurse attending Herbert when he was allowed to return to Britain for treatment after being seriously wounded  by a shell fragment.  They were aboard British Hospital Ship "Anglia", which hit a mine and sank while returning to Britain with wounded soldiers from the Western Front on 17th November 1915.

Mary Rodwell was born in Brockdish, Norfolk, UK (near Diss) on 7th June 1874. Her parents were John and Emma Rodwell, she later lived in the village of Oakley on the Norfolk/Suffolk border.

Mary trained as a nurse at Hendon Infirmary in North West London from 1901 to 1904.  She went on to work at the Samaritan Free Hospital, Marylebone Road, London, after which she worked as a private nurse. Mary was a member of the Crystal Palace and Anerley Women's Freedom League (WFL).

When war broke out, Mary felt it was her duty to volunteer for foreign service. From February to May 1915, she served on hospital trains, before being posted to the Hospital Ship "Anglia".  Mary was the only nurse on the ship who died when "Anglia" hit a mine and sank on 17th November 1915.

Sarah explains:

"Mary was amongst the nursing staff on board who attended to King George V on his return from France in October 1915, when he had been injured in a riding accident" while visiting the troops on the Western Front." (p.175).

Mary has no grave but is commemorated on the Hollybrook Memorial in Southampton, UK, on the QAIMNS memorial in York Minster, the memorial board in St. Paul's Anerly, near Penge, at Ditchingham Parish Church, Norfolk, at All Saints Church, Plumpton Green, near Lewes, Sussex, and on a plaque honouring 500 nurses who lost their lives in WW1 in Edinburgh Central Library.  On 2nd July 1920 a memorial bronze plaque was unveiled at Colindale hospital.

Here is the link to the book’s website:

and Sarah Reay, “The Half-Shilling Curate, A personal account of war & faith 1914-1918” (Helion & Co. Ltd., Solihull, West Midlanbds, UK, 2018)

The photograph, from Sarah Reay's private collection, is reproduced in "The Half Shilling Curate" on page 175. 

Remembering Staff Nurse, C. M. F. Kemp, QAIMNS

Remembering Staff Nurse, C. M. F. Kemp of the 40th British General Hospital in Mesopotamia during WW1. Staff Nurse Kemp was a member of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. She died on 4th July 1918 and was buried in Basra War Cemetery in Mesopotamia (now in Iraq) - Grave Reference: III. T. 2.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Remembering Staff Nurse F.E. Smith of the QAIMNS

Staff Nurse, F. E. SMITH, No. 2/ResS/1235. Staff Nurse Smith worked at the Military Hospital in Aylesbury, UK during WW1. She served with the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service and died on 1st July 1918.  Staff Nurse Smith was buried in Gorton Cemetery, Manchester, Grave Reference: P. C.E. 140.

Book Review by Historian Debbie Cameron: “British Widows of the First World War: The Forgotten Legion” by Andrea Hetherington

Debbie Cameron has written a review of the book “British Widows of the First World War:  The Forgotten Legion” by Andrea Hetherington, published by Pen & Sword Military, Barnsley, Yorkshire, UK, 2018 - ISBN: 9781473886766

“This book is packed with info about various committees, social history and personal stories to tempt a researcher. The first one I followed up was tragic. Sybil Griffin, widowed aged 18, shot herself 6/11/17. Her mother found her, her last words being “I have done for myself. I am going to Cecil” Her suicide note said her World was empty. But ended “… cheer up, your loving daughter”. I’ve found her husband’s RFC record card and researched him. He died in an aircraft accident in October 1917 aged just 23. Capt Griffiths died in a flying accident in Kenley UK. He initially survived but died of wounds. The aircraft is noted as being a ‘right (sic) off’. They were married for less than a year by special licence as she was just 17. Tragic.”

Historian Debbie Cameron runs an excellent Facebook Page called 'Remembering Women on the Home Front WW1' which you can find via this link:  Debbie also contributes a great deal of material to the Imperial War Museum's Lives of the First World War Digital Memory Project:

For further details about fantastic Pen and Sword military history books, please see their website