Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

VAD help needed please


madg1c
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi my great gran Hilda Mary Clarke was born in Portsea Hampshire but was living in London when the war started, is supposed to have served as a VAD in France in the first world war, although she is supposed to of married 3 times I can only find records for the 3rd although this does state she is a widow. I did a search on google books and her name is mention in the List of personnel compiled by the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John (6th Edition, 1917) but i also know that other hilda clarkes served :huh: I cant find any other reference to her I was wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction please? apparently she had burns or scars up her arms which she said were from mustard gas? she also used to wear a large badge on her uniform in later years which was a silver star like the st johns star but with a red cross in the middle about 3" across i havent been able to identify that either although i dont have a very good pic and all i am going on is the description by my mum anyone got any ideas please

confused?? :huh:

madge :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can't see the reference in the BRCS Roll. There is an H.M. Clarke but she's Helen May. Have you tried asking the BRCS archives if they have any record ?

NGG

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Madge

Was Clarke her maiden name, or if not, is it the name she would have served under during the war? And what year was she born (even roughly)? There is no medal index card at The National Archives for a Hilda Clarke, which makes it unlikely, but not impossible, that she served overseas during the war. And when she did get married for the third time?

As mentioned, there is a good chance that there will be some record of her service held by the British Red Cross Society, and the contact address is on this web page, but you'll need the correct surname:

British Red Cross Society personnel records

But what interests me is that you say 'on her uniform in later years' - did she train as a nurse after the war? If not, what uniform is it? I can find a Hilda Mary Clarke who trained as a nurse from 1921 to 1924 at the South Devon and East Cornwall Hospital in Plymouth could this be her?

(And you thought you were asking all the questions!)

Sue

Link to comment
Share on other sites

hi, thanks NGG no i havent checked the brcs yet. and Sue , Hilda was born in 1894 and is my brick wall in the family tree she was supposedly married 3 times, she had 2 children i know who she said the fathers were but cant find any proof she was married to either of them. I am pretty sure she didnt marry the first as he was married to someone else lol as to the 2nd i am unsure it is possible they married overseas as he was in the RAF. The 3rd she didnt marry until the 50's. I do know tho that even if she wasnt officially married to them she still took their names and kept them all by the 3rd marriage she had a treble barrelled name. Anyway the 1st name she adopted was SUTHERLAND my gran was born in 1913 and was registered under CLARKE altho she always thought she was a sutherland, her half brother was born in 1920 altho i can find no record of his birth? and the 2nd name she adopted was CLIFT. Hilda was known by the name SUTHERLAND-CLIFT but I am not sure what year she adopted any of the names. As for nursing training we are not sure? she worked at either a hospital or a convalescent home in Southampton after the war and some time in the early 20's moved to CORNWALL and then SOMERSET where she ran her own homes looking after old servicemen and also babies, some of whom she adopted. Oh and just to make things more complicated she also used to drop the e on the end of CLARKE seemingly whenever she felt like it! Sorry this is rather complicated!

Madge :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Madge

It does look hopeful that you know she was in Cornwall in the 1920s and there was a nurse of the same name training in Plymouth in the early twenties. It looks as though the South Devon and East Cornwall Hospital (now Plymouth General Hospital) has quite extensive archives at the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office and it might be worth an enquiry to them to see if they have any further information (01752 305940). And it she did train there, it was under the name Hilda Mary Clarke, which then perhaps makes it more likely that she had used that name as a VAD. Although it does beg the question what had happened to your gran and her brother in the meantime - during the war and nurse training - as nurse training with children in tow was not really an option then. And with so many complications, I'm not absolutely sure that I'd understand the answer :lol:

Sue

Link to comment
Share on other sites

<br />Madge<br /><br />It does look hopeful that you know she was in Cornwall in the 1920s and there was a nurse of the same name training in Plymouth in the early twenties. It looks as though the South Devon and East Cornwall Hospital (now Plymouth General Hospital) has quite extensive archives at the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office and it might be worth an enquiry to them to see if they have any further information (01752 305940). And it she did train there, it was under the name Hilda Mary Clarke, which then perhaps makes it more likely that she had used that name as a VAD. Although it does beg the question what had happened to your gran and her brother in the meantime - during the war and nurse training - as nurse training with children in tow was not really an option then. And with so many complications, I'm not absolutely sure that I'd understand the answer <img src="style_emoticons/default/laugh.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":lol:" border="0" alt="laugh.gif" /> <br /><br />Sue<br />
<br /><br /><br />

Sue, I know that my gran lived with her gran when she was little as to what happened when her brother was born I am not sure. They moved to Cornwall about 1923?ish. I believe by this time Hilda was going by Sutherland-Clift but on the other hand would you of had to show proof of your identity (birth certificate?) to train as a nurse?

Madge

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have just found this book online fully digitised don't know if you have it already but its defo worth a read :)

BRITAIN S CIVILIAN

VOLUNTEERS

AUTHORIZED STORY OF BRITISH VOLUNTARY

AID DETACHMENT WORK IN THE

GREAT WAR

BY

THEKLA BOWSER, F.J.I.

Serving Sister of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem

TORONTO

MCCLELLAND, GOODCHILD & STEWART, LTD.

1917

heres the link if you are interested or dont already have it :D

http://www.archive.org/stream/britainscivi...wsuoft_djvu.txt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

would you of had to show proof of your identity (birth certificate?) to train as a nurse?

I'm sure it varied from place to place, but quite honestly who would know if you stretched the truth. Her age was itself was no problem and if the name varied all you had to do was either say you were widowed, or perhaps that you were born with one name but bought up by step-parents/foster parents and adopted another name.

Re the book - it's also been reprinted recently and is available from Naval and Military Press. It's quite an interesting account, although Thekla Bowser's view does always seem very rosy, with everyone happy and all well with the world. Unfortunately she died not that long after it was published.

Sue

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

hi sorry it has taken my so long to reply, i haven't been very well. anyway mum has now managed to find a photo of hilda in her uniform. if anyone could identify anything please let me know, i believe the medals she is wearing are the british war medal and the victory medal if im wrong please correct me! :rolleyes:

i havent been able to identify the star at all. the other badge she is wearing on her chest looks to be a red cross county badge but i cant enlarge the pic enough to see which county.

the other thing that is throwing me is that her armband says immobile which i understood to mean she would of served in this country, is that correct? thankyou for your help so far she still remains a big puzzle in my tree tho! ^_^

hildainvaduniform.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I defer to Sue in all matters of uniform, but this photo looks far more like a late 1920s early 30s one than WW1.

I also associate the terms mobile and immobile more with WW2.

You are correct about medals. She is wearing her BRCS county badge plus the British War and Victory medals. the large star above is, I believe, Masonic - possibly Knights Templar. i have never see it worn by a woman.

Norman

Link to comment
Share on other sites

thankyou Norman for your reply, i have been wondering about the age of the photo since i got it. under the photo it says bridgwater and she didnt move there until the early 30's but as its written on the mount i wasn't sure if it was taken earlier and just mounted in bridgwater. thankyou for suggesting the star was masonic as i had not been able to identify it so far and it is indeed very similar to knights of templar preceptor badge :) the only thing throwing me now is the armband as i have not been able to find a picture of one the same :unsure:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I honestly don't know much Norman - I just wing it and make it up as I go along :rolleyes: I have a feeling that you're rather better than that with medals!

The armband shows a 'VAD Immobile' badge - I think it's yellow lettering and the central 'bullseye' is 'VAD' in yellow on a pale blue background, which of course means the 'VAD' hasn't shown up on the image - the badge was certainly the one used in the Second World War. Although the mobile and immobile was a WW2 thing, surprisingly, those terms were introduced in September 1924, though I suppose as there was no war on until 1939, they weren't used a lot until then. So it doesn't really add a lot to proving the date, though as she was born in 1894, if that's 1930s, then she's certainly looking great for her age.

Sue

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thankyou Sue, i can make out the V.A.D in the original photo :) is it possible that if she remained a V.A.D. after WW1 they would have given her a new style badge when they came out? I know you said they are WW2 style badges but is it possible the badges were used befor the war? I only ask because as you pointed out she was born in 1894 by the time WW2 started she would have been mid 40's and although she did look young for her age it seems unlikely, also we know that she didn't go away during WW2 :wacko: thanks for your help :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As the classification came into force in 1924, it's likely badges were issued around the time. I know that particular badge was being used in WW2, but it might well have been in use from the 1920s. Taking into consideration her age, I would put the photo late 20s or early 30s.

Sue

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Sue, I have since found another photo which would date this as early to mid 30's :) I have also found some letters one would have been written about 1920 in which she states she is going to do her C.M.B. at Queen Charlottes, also another from the 30's when she had her own nursing home the letterhead says she offers medical surgical and midwifery services, I hope she had had some formal training to be offering this! lol :0) thanks for your help Marianne

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 years later...

10697257 10203897734618701 6151682174831847510 O

Hope it is ok to bump this. I have some new info. Apparently Hilda trained in Middlesex from 1914 then went to Belgium. She was either an ambulance driver or on the ambulance train. Can anyone help please? ;) Hopefully the photo shows ok. Can't identify the hospital but this should be from the time she trained or served.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 years later...

To madge1c

What a coincidence!  Only yesterday my dad asked me to find any information on a Timothy Anthony Victor Hugh Sutherland-Clift!  Just come across this site and your comments about Hilda May Sutherland-Clift.  I think we have something in common!  My dad was bought up in a children's home run by a Hilda Mary Sutherland-Clift.(nee Clarke).  The story goes......... and it will need further verification as I have only been party to snippets......... Hilda was not married to Sutherland (but story says she had a daughter Ruth (Farrance I believe) by this man ) but later married Victor Hugh Clift (whom they had a son Timothy Anthony Victor Hugh Sutherland-Clift died 2/3/43 aged 22.  He was an  Aircraftsman 1st class RAF, buried in EL ALIA Cemetary).  I think she later married a Watts, becoming Sutherland-Clift Watts.  She ran a 'home' in Wembdon, Bridgwater, Somerset and I believe had several children and even adopted some.  She was referred to as Matron.  I would have to speak to my dad to get more facts and figures if you are interested, but would love to share information.  I understand she had a very colourful life and vowed to take her secrets to her grave - hence why it is so difficult to find out information about her! Hope you can get in touch as I have no idea how as I only signed up on this site tonight to get in touch with you!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...
On 04/05/2018 at 23:10, FltLt229 said:

To madge1c

What a coincidence!  Only yesterday my dad asked me to find any information on a Timothy Anthony Victor Hugh Sutherland-Clift!  Just come across this site and your comments about Hilda May Sutherland-Clift.  I think we have something in common!  My dad was bought up in a children's home run by a Hilda Mary Sutherland-Clift.(nee Clarke).  The story goes......... and it will need further verification as I have only been party to snippets......... Hilda was not married to Sutherland (but story says she had a daughter Ruth (Farrance I believe) by this man ) but later married Victor Hugh Clift (whom they had a son Timothy Anthony Victor Hugh Sutherland-Clift died 2/3/43 aged 22.  He was an  Aircraftsman 1st class RAF, buried in EL ALIA Cemetary).  I think she later married a Watts, becoming Sutherland-Clift Watts.  She ran a 'home' in Wembdon, Bridgwater, Somerset and I believe had several children and even adopted some.  She was referred to as Matron.  I would have to speak to my dad to get more facts and figures if you are interested, but would love to share information.  I understand she had a very colourful life and vowed to take her secrets to her grave - hence why it is so difficult to find out information about her! Hope you can get in touch as I have no idea how as I only signed up on this site tonight to get in touch with you!

Hi, so sorry. I wasn't notified you had replied to my comments. I have messaged you. I am hoping the site notifies you I have replied or messaged :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 minutes ago, DavidOwen said:

Sadly they don't yet have access to the PM system (2 posts needed) but I have sent them an email alerting them to your reply.

 

Hopefully they will be back.

 

David

Thank you! That is very kind :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...