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. "