Sunday, 14 November 2010

Military Medals

This picture of General Plumer decorating nurses with the ribbon of the Military Medal is often seen, and in the past I've only given it a fleeting examination. But today I stopped to wonder who the women were, and if I could put names to them. The original caption in the newspaper said:

General Sir H. C. O. Plumer presents the Military Medal to nurses for outstanding courage when their hospital was bombed by a raiding squadron of enemy aeroplanes. They had no thought of their own safety when the bombs were falling.

I have other images of the nurse on the left - a nursing sister of the regular Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, so could easily identify her as Charlotte Lilian Annie Robinson. Looking at the nurses who were involved in the same incident, the Territorial Force Nursing Service Staff Nurse, second from left is likely to be Katherine Robertson Lowe, and the other two (one of whom is hidden by General Plumer), Acting Sister Minnie Maude de Guerin and Acting Sister Nellie Galvin, both members of Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve. The citation for Miss Robinson (the others are similar) reads:

For conspicuous devotion to duty when a stationary hospital was struck by four bombs from an enemy aeroplane and one wing was practically cut in two, many patients being buried in the debris. Sister Robinson, at very great personal risk, went in amongst the ruins to assist in recovering the patients, quite regardless of danger, her one thought being the rescue of the patients. She displayed magnificent coolness and resource.

Charlotte Robinson served in QAIMNS for more than twenty-eight years, finally retiring in 1941.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

It just doesn't add up!

A couple of posts ago I wrote:

For services rendered during the Great War there were more than 14,000 RRCs both 1st and 2nd class issued ...

However, I was wrong. The RRC Register starts at number 1, and proceeds sedately through 2, 3, 4, 5 and onwards relentlessly. There were about 250 pre-WW1 awards, and if you browse through to the end of the Great War awards, you arrive at (roughly speaking) number 14,350. But silly of me to assume that signified the total number of wartime awards, as someone at the War Office was not too hot on what could loosely be termed 'numeracy.' All is well until award number 3,199 is reached. What follows 3,199? Can I hear you shouting '3,200'? Wrong. 3,199 is followed by 4,000, thus missing out 801 numbers. Anyone could be forgiven for a slip like this, but unfortunately it's not unique.
Award number 4,099 is followed by number 5,000; 5,099 is followed by 6,000; 6,099 is followed by 7,000 ... you get the idea. In the first two volumes this type of mistake happens seven times, resulting in the 'loss' of thousands of awards. Adding up the actual totals, it seems that there were just under 8,000 Great War awards of the Royal Red Cross - that is, of course, if I've counted correctly.