Monday 30 April 2012

Edith Appleton one more time!

I've written twice in the past about identifying nurses who were named in the wartime diaries of Edith Appleton, here:

Edith Appleton's diary 1

Edith Appleton's diary 2

Since re-reading the diary following its publication as 'A Nurse at the Front' a few more names have come to light so even more names to add now.  They are:

Born on 2nd December 1879 at Port Askaig, Islay, Argyllshire, the daughter of a lighthouse boatman.  She trained as a nurse at Stobhill General Hospital, Glasgow, between February 1912 and February 1915, before joining Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve as a Staff Nurse a year later.  Her first posting was to Hampstead Military Hospital in June 1917, and she was later posted to France where she worked at No.3 General Hospital, Le Treport from May 1918 until February 1919.  Lighthouse-keeping must have run in the family as though her parents were both dead, her next of kin is given as her sister – the writing is difficult to read, but probably a Mrs. Thomas, whose address was Montrose Ness lighthouse (Scurdie Ness), Montrose, Scotland.

Born 27 July 1892 at Kingstone, Barnsley, Yorkshire, her father a ‘Colliery Salesman and Commercial Traveller.’  She trained as a nurse at Victoria Hospital, Burnley, between March 1913 and April 1916, and joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve as a Staff Nurse a year later.  At the time of joining, her parents were still alive and living at 35 Westbourne Road, Lancaster.  She initially worked at Connaught Hospital, Aldershot, before going to France in the spring of 1918.  She was working on No.42 Ambulance Train for nearly a year, and was finally demobilised in July 1919.

WAITE, Lilian Julia
Her date of birth is unclear as she appears to have taken some years off her age, but believed to have been born about 1865 in either London or Surrey.  Trained St. George’s Hospital, London, and later joined the Territorial Force Nursing Service as a Nursing Sister, being attached to No.2 Eastern General Hospital, Brighton, where she worked for the first year of the war. She was posted to France in May 1915, and worked in many different hospitals, including No.1 General Hospital, Etretat.  Her reports show her to be an industrious worker, but not always in the best of health.  The Matron-in-Chief, Maud McCarthy described her as ‘not very young, but a gentlewoman.’  Her next of kin was her sister, Blanche Waite, who lived in Barnes, London, and Lilian Waite’s address immediately post-war was College Hill Cottage, Steyning, Sussex.  Lilian Waite died in Guildford in January 1930.

LEEDAM, Ida Blanche
Born 1878 in Litherland, Lancashire, the daughter of Henry Leedam, a schoolmaster, and his wife Amy who also worked as a teacher.  Trained as a nurse at the Royal Southern Hospital, Liverpool between 1904 and 1907 before working as a District Nurse in Nantwich.  She joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve as a Nursing Sister in November 1914, and had a busy war, working in many places including No.1 General Hospital, Etretat, and also on hospital ships, ambulance trains and in post-war Germany.  She was wounded in May 1918 as a result of enemy bombing when No.24 Ambulance Train was attacked at Doullens Station and was later awarded the Royal Red Cross (2nd Class).  After the Great War she worked regularly in military hospitals as a member of QAIMNS permanent reserve, and also found time for employment as a District Nurse and as a nursing sister on board White Star Line ships.  Ida Leedham died in December 1944.

So if you are reading this and think you're related to any of the women above, please let me know.

Monday 16 April 2012

For VADs proceeding on active service

During the middle of 1915, as more and more hospitals were needed to cope with an increasing number of casualties, VADs first started working overseas in hospitals under the control of the War Office to augment the numbers of trained nurses. Before they embarked they were given an inspirational message written for them by their Commandant-in-Chief, Katharine Furse, on the back of which was a prayer by Rachel Crowdy, Principal Commandant in France. I was in Oxford over the weekend at the AGM of the Western Front Association and while I was there someone asked me if this prayer was on my website (which it wasn't) so I've added both message and prayer and repeated them here. Copies of the original are held both at the Imperial War Museum and the British Red Cross Archives.



This paper is to be considered by each V.A.D. member as confidential and to be kept in her Pocket Book.

You are being sent to work for the Red Cross. You have to perform a task which will need your courage, your energy, your patience, your humility, your determination to overcome all difficulties. Remember that the honour of the V.A.D. organisation depends on your individual conduct. It will be your duty not only to set an example of discipline and perfect steadiness of character, but also to maintain the most courteous relations with those whom you are helping in this great struggle.

Be invariable courteous, unselfish and kind. Remember whatever duty you undertake, you must carry it out faithfully, loyally, and to the best of your ability.

Rules and regulations are necessary in whatever formation you join. Comply with them without grumble or criticism and try to believe that there is reason at the back of them, though at the time you may not understand the necessity.

Sacrifices may be asked of you. Give generously and wholeheartedly, grudging nothing, but remembering that you are giving because your Country needs your help. If you see others in better circumstances than yourself, be patient and think of the men who are fighting amid discomfort and who are often in great pain.

Those of you who are paid can give to the Red Cross Society which is your Mother and which needs much more money to carry on its great work to their Mother Society and thus to the Sick and Wounded.

Let our mottos be ‘Willing to do anything’ and ‘The People give gladly.’ If we live up to these, the V.A.D. members will come out of this world war triumphant.

Do your duty loyally
Fear God
Honour the King

And only the Master shall praise us, and only the Master shall blame.
And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame,
But each for the joy of working, and each in his separate star,
Shall draw the thing as he sees it for the God of things as they are.


Lord, who once bore your own Cross shoulder high to save mankind, help us to bear our Red Cross Banner high, with clean hands unafraid.
To those who tend the wounded and sick give health and courage, that they of their store may give to those who lie awake in pain with strength and courage gone.

Teach us no task can be too great, no work too small, for those who die or suffer pain for us and their Country. Give unto those who rule a gentle justice and a wisely guiding hand, remembering ‘Blessed are the Merciful.’ And when peace comes, grant neither deed nor word of ours has thrown a shadow on the Cross, nor stained the flag of England.

Katharine Furse in the uniform of the Women's Royal Naval Service, 1920

Rachel Crowdy in her office in Boulogne

Sunday 8 April 2012

War Hospital Supply Depots

I've just added an account to my website of the British Red Cross Central Work Rooms, Work Parties and War Hospital Supply Depots. These were foundations upon which war hospitals were built, but these days are rarely mentioned and have faded into obscurity. But the rules, regulations and discipline which governed them were remarkable for a voluntary organisation. The article is here:

The Central Work Rooms

And this is Barnard Davis' painting of Gerrards Cross War Hospital Supply Depot, its honey-glow attractiveness almost makes you want to be part of it!

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Tracing Your Service Women Ancestors

This new book by Mary Ingham is due to be published on April 19th, and I've put a review on my website here:

It really is a comprehensive guide to researching women's services from the Crimean War to the 1920s, and covers areas that are barely mentioned elsewhere. Trying to find information about female ancestors is hard at the best of times, and this book is a real 'must have' for anyone who thinks they might have women in their family tree who served with the military forces during that period. Thoroughly recommended (and that's saying something coming from she who spends so much time criticising so many!)

Published by Pen and Sword, 2012
ISBN: 978 1 84884 173 4