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: www.halfshillingcurate.com

Sources:  http://cohse-union.blogspot.com/2009/11/mary-rodwell-suffragette-and-ww1.html
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. 

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