Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Women in the Great War” by Stephen Wynn and Tanya Wynn (Pen & Sword, Barnsley, 2017) - Review

This is an extremely interesting, fast-paced and informative book.  Although I knew quite a lot of the information provided since I began researching for a series of commemorative exhibitions, I also found a good deal that was new to me.   The book begins with an overview of the situation of women – in particular those campaigning to be permitted to vote - during the years leading up to 1914.   Chapter Two is about Munitions Workers with details of dangers involved and the explosions that took place.   Brief mention is also made about the very popular, fund-raising football matches in which the women who worked in factories during WW1 took part.

Chapter Three goes into detail about the history and formation of the Voluntary Aid Detachments and I found this particularly interesting because there is a good deal of confusion these days with the use of the acronym VAD.  Included in that chapter are details of some of the famous women who were VADs .  Chapter Four is devoted to the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) which became the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps.   Included here is a list of the women of the Corps who died or were killed during WW1.

In Chapter Five, you will find details of other women’s organisations - such as The Women’s Legion, The Territorial Force Nursing Service, The Women’s Hospital Corps, The Women’s Volunteer Reserve, The Women’s Auxiliary Force, The Women’s Land Army, Women Police Force Volunteers, The Women’s Forage Corps, The Women’s Forestry Corps, The Almeric Paget Military Massage Corps, The Women’s Royal Air Force, The Women’s Sick and Wounded Convoy Corps, The Women’s National Land Service Corps and Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service.  Also included in that chapter is the story of Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm who initially went to Belgium with Hector Munro’s Flying Ambulance Unit.

Chapter Six is entitled “Individual Women of the Great War” and has some very interesting stories about women who were secret agents during the conflict.  Chapter Seven lists some of the many women who died or were killed while serving in some capacity during WW1 and Chapter Eight is devoted to the war-time service of Queen Mary and her daughter, Princess Mary.  The book ends with a Conclusion, Acknowledgements and an Index and is beautifully illustrated throughout with photographs and copies of posters, etc.

I was particularly interested in the details of the deal the British Government brokered with the Women’s Social and Policical Union when war broke out (page 4) and a certain incredible fact about DORA that I did not know (page 5).   Information about the involvement of the daughter of Lloyd George was also interestiong (page 28), as I had not heard about her, 

For me the most fascinating story was about the Christmas 1914 gift to serving military personnel known as Princess Mary’s Tin.  My Old Contemptible Grandfather died when I was four years old. When I was growing up, Mother kept his Christmas tin in the kitchen drawer, where it contained pieces of string and sealing wax.  I used to look at the tin and marvel at the names embossed on the lid but it was not until I read this book that I found out about the background to the gift and saw photographs of the contents of the tin (pages 134 – 137).

A most enjoyable book which I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in the role of women during The First World War.

“Women in the Great War” by Stephen Wynn and Tanya Wynn was published by Pen & Sword, Barnsley in 2017.  For further details please see https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/ where you will find details of other fascinating war-related books published by Pen & Sword.

Lucy London, August 2018

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Remembering the women of WW1 who died on 14th August 1918


Nurse EDITH INGRAM.  With the 55th Gen. Hospital.  Edith was born in 1887. Her parents were Mr and Mrs S.A. Ingram of Littlehampton. Edith joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment and was posted to France. Edith died on 14 August 1918, at the age of 31. Sh was buried in Terlinchthun British Cemetery, Wimille, Pas de Calais, France. Grave Reference: II. C. 27.   Edith features in a special commemorative book donated to the group Wenches in Trenches The Roses of No Man’s Land “Women Casualties of the Great War in Military Cemeteries – Volume 1:  Belgium & France” where you will find reference to Edith on page 69.

LIVERPOOL (TOXTETH PARK) CEMETERY, Lancashire, United KingdomRemembering Staff

Nurse LILIAN THOMAS, No.  2/Res/T/91 of The Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. Lilian Thomas was born in Garston, Liverpool and lived in Toxteth.    Lilian worked at The University War Hospital in Southampton, Hampshire, UK.  Lilian’s parents were William Thomas, born in Seacombe and Emma Thomas, nee Shimmin, born on the Isle of Man.  The family lived in "Carrock," High Bebington Rd., Lower Bebington, Cheshire. Lilian died on 14th August 1918 at the age of 27. She was buried in Toxteth Park Cemetery, Liverpool - Grave Reference: VIII. C.E. 666.
With thanks to Walter Volleamere for additional information about Staff Nurse Thomas.


Charlotte Sophia DUKE, No. G/3028,  was a cook with The Women's Royal Naval Service. Charlotte was born on 22nd July 1895 in Croydon, Surrey. Her parents were Tom and Martha Duke and her siblings were: Sarah, Thomas, Joseph, Elizabeth, Martha and Christine.  Charlotte joined on 17th January 1918 and was at HMS Victory. She worked at the Lion Hotel, Portsmouth (presumably commandeered for war accommodation) from 2nd July 1918.   She died on 14th August 1918 at the age of 23 and was buried in Highland Road Cemetery, Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK. Grave Reference: North Wall. E. 3. 17.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Elizabeth Coghill Bartholomew (1894 - 1975) - British VAD

With thanks to Sergio Sbalchiero for sending me this information about VAD Elizabeth Coghill Bartholomew, known as Betty (1894 - 1975), who served on the Italian Front in WW1. 

Elizabeth was born on 23rd May 1894 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Elizabeth's parents were Ian John George Bartholomew, who was cartographer to the King, and his wife, Janet Bartholomew. Elizabeth’s siblings were: 

John (Ian) Bartholomew, an officer in the Gordon Highlanders, who served in France and Flanders, George Hugh Freeland Bartholomew, a Captain with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, who was killed in France in October 1917 at the age of 21 and buried in the Rocquigny - Equancourt Road British Cemetery, Manancourt, France, Louis St Clair Bartholomew and Margaret (Maisie) Hamilton Bartholomew.

Nicknamed "Betty Bar", Elizabeth joined the 2nd Edinburgh Voluntary Aid Detachment in July 1916 – her address at that time was Gardon, Morton Hall Road, Edinburgh. She worked in Italy with the First British Red Cross Unit from July 1916 to October 1917, at the Hospital of Villa Trento in Dolegnano. Elizabeth was then posted to France, where she worked at No.1 Anglo Belge, Bonsecours, France from June 1918 until April 1919.

After the war, Elizabeth married Henry Pitney van Deusen from Princeton, USA, who went to study theology in Edinburgh. Elizabeth died in Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey, USA on 14th February 1975.

Photos of Betty in Italy and the Hospital Villa Trento, Dolegnano, Italy from Sergio Sbalchiero

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Book Review: "Hattie Big Sky" and "Hattie ever after" by Kirby Larson

My friend Margaret in America sent me a gift of a copy of "Hattie Big Sky" to help with my research into women in the First World War.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, which is inspired by, and based on, the early life of Kirby Larson's Step Great-Grandmother.  Although the work is fiction, Kirby has woven some of Hattie's true story into the work. 

Kirby went to great lengths to research the background of the book, travelling to Montana and talking to relatives of the people who knew Hattie.   The descriptions of how hard life was in remote areas back then give us an insight into what life was like at that time.   There are also stories of how America coped with the war on the home front. We find out what life was like for the 'Doughboys' when Hattie writes to her old school chum, Charlie, who is a soldier with the American Expeditionary Force in France.

I contacted Kirby to tell her how very much I had enjoyed reading "Hattie Big Sky" and she very kindly sent me a copy of the sequel - "Hattie Ever After" - another 'couldn't put it down' book.  This time we follow Hattie to San Francisco, where she finally achieves a long-cherished dream.  The book gives some interesting insights into what life was like for women in the years following WW1 when they had entered the workforce in large numbers.  Many people expected life to return the way it was before 1914.

"Hattie Big Sky" by Kirby Larson, published by Yearling, New York, 2006 and
"Hattie Ever After" by Kirby Larson, published by Delacorte Press, New York, 2013.

For further information, please see http://www.hattiebigsky.com/
and http://www.kirbylarson.com/hattie-ever-after/

Friday, 3 August 2018


Remembering VIOLET ALICE LAMBTON. LONG, O B E., Chief Controller of The Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps who was drowned at sea when the Hospital Ship HMHS "Warilda" sank on 3rd August 1918.

His Majesty's Australian Transport “Warilda” was built by William Beardmore and Company in Glasgow as the SS “Warilda” for the Adelaide Steamship Company.  She was designed for the East-West Australian coastal service, but following the start of the First World War, was converted into a troopship and later, in 1916, into a hospital ship.

On 3rd August 1918, HMHS “Warilda” was taking wounded soldiers from Le Havre, France to Southampton when she was torpedoed by the German submarine UC-49. The ship was marked clearly with the Red Cross. Germany justified this action by maintaining the ships were also carrying weapons – though in this case it would surely have been travelling in the wrong direction to transport arms.

The ship sank in about two hours, and of the 801 persons on board, 123 died. The wreck is in the English Channel.

Photographs from the collection held for the nation by the Imperial War Museum in London.  Name of photographer unknown.

LONG, Chief Controller, VIOLET ALICE LAMBTON. O B E. Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. Drowned at sea (from HMHS "Warilda"), 3 August 1918. 

With many thanks to Debbie Cameron and Mark Bristow for the following information about Violet:

Violet Beatrix Alice Lambton Long nee Way, O.B.E. was born in Gosford, Northumberland on 30th April 1883, the daughter of Col. Wilfred FitzAlan Way and Henrietta Mary Way, nee Ross.  Violet’s sister, Florence Edith Victoria Leach, nee Way, who also served in the QMAAC, was born in Jersey in 1874.  Her other siblings were Ethel E.H Way, born 1877, Wilfred G.M Way, born 1878.
In 1881 her father (who was born at Long Ashton) was at Ashton Court in Somerset with his cousin Baronet John G. Smith (family known later as Smyth). Ashton Court by the way was used as an Officers Hospital during WW1.

At time of 1901 census she was residing at Portsmouth with her father, 55 year old retired Infantry Colonel Wilfred Way. She was born in Northumberland at time he was a Captain with 5th Fusiliers.
Violet married William Edward Long in 1901. Violet and William had two daughters, Felicity Annette Cynthia Long and Violet Long.

Major W.E.Long, O.B.E.(son of Colonel W. Long, C.M.G.) was a Captain in the Remount Service/4th Hussars, and they lived at Newton House, Hill Road, Clevedon.
(Clevedon Town Council took over from Clevedon Urban District Council for whom Colonel Long was Chairman from 1908 - 1923.)

According to the "Chiswick Times" Violet lived at 4, Abinger Road, Bedford Park with her husband and two daughters. The vicar of her local church, where her name is listed on the WW1 memorial, said that "Mrs Violet Long was a splendid speciman of womanhood." She helped with the training of a large number of candidates in the Parish Hall for the examination by the St John Ambulance Society.

The vicar also said " It is well for us to remember the heroic part women have played in this war, and the especial worthiness of Mrs. Long in particular, who lived among us."
"Violet Long was responsible for the cookery and domestic section of the Women's Legion. When the Women's Legion amalgamated with the WAACs Mrs. Long brought over 3,000 recruits."
"Mrs Long was a very handsome woman with a magnificent head of bright brown hair."

The newspaper report also explains that Major William Long, Violet's husband, was in Egypt at the time doing remount work.

The following account of the sinking is by Miss Charlotte Allen Trowell QMAAC the only survivor of two members of the Corps who were aboard HMHS “Warilda”:

"I was acting as orderly to Mrs. Long, Deputy Chief Controller of the QMAAC. There was no warning of impending disaster when I retired to my bunk at a quarter to twelve. Mrs Long came to my bunk just before retiring herself and inquired, "Are you comfy?" and gave me some chocolates.

When the torpedo struck the vessel I was thrown out of my bunk. I hurried on deck, and just as I got up there the stairway was blown up.

There was no panic. Those wounded boys although dying, were splendid. I was put into a boat filled with wounded, but as the vessel sank our boat was not level. A davit rope was cut, but the boat capsized and we were thrown into the water. I clung to a rope and a wounded American Officer and an Australian pulled me into another boat. The wounded soldiers who were in that boat insisted on wrapping their saturated blankets around me.

I shall never forget the end of Mrs. Long who had been so kind to me. She clung to the boat into which I had been dragged and I caught hold of her by the hair. She exclaimed "Oh save me. My feet are fastened. I have lost a foot." Her feet had become entangled in some rope.

Strenuous efforts succeeded in freeing her limbs and a Southampton sailor tried hard to get her into the boat, but she collapsed suddenly, fell back and was drowned.

We were about two hours in the boat before we were picked up. "