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Remembered Today:

Women buried on the Western Front - a complete overview


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Marilyne

Annie Bain was born in 1888 in Harrismith, South Africa. 
Her father James had come from Scotland with his brother Steward. 
We don't know much about Annie's early life. Having trained as a nurse, she joined the Order of St John and came to France with the hospital as a junior nurse under sister Margaret Ballance in O ward. She worked together with Bessie Trimble and Canadian artist and VAD nurse Emma Mieville. 
Annie Bain seems to have been a strict sister, and a stickler for discipline and rank. When at St John’s VAD’s were encouraged to follow lectures and training given by the staff as to be able to help more actively in the care of patients, one young VAD was caught by Sister Bain walking up to a medical officer and tell him information about a patient in apparently a familiar tone and she told her off .  (that story is told in STARNS, Penny : Sisters of the Somme: True Stories from a First World War Field Hospital: very recommendable!) 
In the night of the 1st June 1918, Sister Annie Bain was on night duty in O ward, at her desk writing reports when the bombs of the second big air raid on Etaples, started to fall. Her ward was badly hit and she was killed instantly. 
By the end of the raid, the hospital was completely destroyed and moved up to Boulogne. 
Annie Watson was buried in Etaples Cemetery the day after her death and posthumously mentioned in dispatches .


 

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Marilyne

A very quick one... it's late, and Boyfriend is moaning that I'm leaving him all alone in front of the telly watching I-don't-know-what, so here's a very special and unique case: 


in the end of November 1918, Florence Grover received a telegram from the War Office informing her of her husband, Private Albert Grover, aged 23, of 6th Bn. The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment being wounded. Following her heart, young Florence set out to France to nurse him. But unfortunately, they were separated by illness. Sister Mary McCall of QAIMNS recalls: One particularly tragic case I remember was a little girl, a very young bride, who’d been brought out to see her wounded husband. She had probably caught the infection before she left, because not long after she arrived in the ward she collapsed and was taken to the Sick Sisters’ quarters with influenza. She died a day or two later and it was terribly tragic for the poor husband. Then later he caught it and died too .” (quoted in Lyn McDonald's "Roses of No-Man's Land"). She was 21 years old. 
Albert Grover died 17 December 1918 and is buried Plot XLVII, Row E, Grave 5, not far away from his wife.

 

M.
 

 

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Jim Strawbridge

A case where the CWGC care for the grave as a non-commemorative.

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Marilyne

indeed, Jim! Thanks for clarifying!! As our pal Terry wrote somewhere else here: it can be confusing sometimes

 

Back on topic... and then I'm afraid I'll have to let you wait a bit more... 

Margaret Lowe ("Low" on brirth certificate but "Lowe" on the attestation papers) was born in Morayshire, Scotland, on 26th January 1888, to a Canadian father. The family moved to Binscarth, Manitoba when she was young. While growing up in Canada, she decided to become a nurse. Margaret received her training at the Winnipeg Civic Hospital, graduated in 1916 and immediately after enlisted as a Nursing Sister with the Canadian Army.

Margaret sailed from Halifax on the 29th May 1917 and started working at the Ontario Military Hospital in Orpington. During the second half of 1918, Margaret Lowe was posted in various hospitals in England before being moved to 10th Canadian Stationary Hospital in St Omer in January 1919. She transferred to 1st Canadian General Hospital on the 8th March 1918.

Margaret Lowe was caught in the 19th May attack and suffered a compound fracture of the skull, probably from debris falling on her head, and a penetrating wound to the chest. She clung to life for over a week but eventually died on the 28th May. 

She was buried with full military honors the next day and was, as can be seen on the films that remain (they have been shared on the forum), mourned by many of her colleagues. 

 

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That's it for now... tomorrow I'm off to a very very busy working week. I'm taking over coordination for the distribution of material, help that the army is giving to the civilian sector and it's going to be a very busy time, so I might be completely out for the week. 

 

M.

 

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  • 3 months later...
Marilyne

Good evening all,

 

I've kept you waiting for more for over three months… in my defence, work was very busy and then I finally made it to my trip to visit all these ladies, so now I can share their stories again!

I'm going to go back to my initial intention, and post the pictures of the resting places in my order of visiting them. So yes you'll have to wait a bit before getting the pictures of the ladies of Etaples I've already introduced. I hope you're still with me on this… right now, I have enough to keep us going for some time…

 

As you might have followed, my "Western Front - The Girls Tour" started in Caudry British Cemetery and the grave of Elizabeth Harvey Watson.

Staff Nurse Elizabeth Harvey Watson was born on the 25th August 1898 and spent her life in Dromore, Co. Down. She trained as a nurse at the City Infirmary of Belfast, between September 1909 and 1913. In her attestation papers, dated 26th August 1915 she claims to have acquired experience in various wards: “I have nursed all kinds of vivo cases: typhoid, typhus, scarlet fever, measles, chicken pox, smallpox, diphtheria and also tracheotomy cases, Erysipelas (skin infection), puerperal fever & phthisis (TB)”. (thank you to the GW Pals for helping me read the record!!). She also listed her father Robert H. Watson, living in Red Cross House in Dromore, as next-of-kin.

On the 30th October 1917, Elizabeth Watson got her first war posting in Colchester. She reported for overseas duty in July 1916 and arrived in Boulogne on the 13th. She spent the first one and a half year of her service at Nb 14 and Nb 10 stationary hospitals and in January 1918 was moved to Nb 34 CCS. On the 27th March 1918 she received orders to proceed to Nb4 General Hospital in Etaples. September 1918 sees Elizabeth in Nurses Hospital in Abbeville, although it is not clear from the records if it was as a patient or a nurse, but from the short period I gather the first. Following the advance of the British troops during the Last 100 Days, Elizabeth was posted back to Nb 34 CCS on the 21st September and then on to Nb 21 CCS in Caudry on the 29th October. But before resuming duty, she was taken ill with pneumonia. She was temporarily accommodated in a private billet just next to the hospital and died there on the 5th November, after five days of illness. One can only too easily imagine what happened: as she had been treating patients with influenza, she caught it herself and fell ill during the trip to the new hospital.

I have no picture of her unfortunately. If anyone can help with that …

 

D94A0039.JPG.7b25add20dc44c28dc78f208408f7eab.JPG

 

Next up… a little exception…

 

M.

 

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Marilyne

I told you that the next post would be about a little exception… the next stop on my tour was Bony Somme Cemetery, where Helen Fairchild is buried.

I don't need to introduce her … she was first buried in Mont Huon cemetery in Le Tréport but after the war moved to Bony, as were some of her colleagues. I have, through a quick search identified at least two american nurses who were initially buried in Etaples and now lay not far from Helen. More maybe after this project is done!!

 

107142190_2019152108229840_5805498809371825545_o.jpg.def5034c4e01abc58e45537eeeb59ea8.jpg

 

M.

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FROGSMILE

I just wanted to thank you for these wonderful posts Marilyne, they are all very interesting and I look forward to reading each one that you write.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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Fattyowls

Mr F speaks the truth Marilyne. I've always thought of Helen ever since my first visit to Bony, yet I wasn't aware of other nurses buried there too.

 

Pete.

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Marilyne

There are four others I'm sure of, in the same plot. And of of them, Margaret Hamilton, was definitely buried in Etaples first. Her passing is mentionned in the war diaries of Clare Gass that I just finished (with thanks again to Dave for the book!!!) But as said… I'm concentrate first on the British ladies …

 

Today we're going to Bagneux Cemetery next to Gézaincourt.

On the night of 29 to 30th may, a lot of bombs fell on the lines of communication, at various places and one of these places was the Citadel of Doullens, where Nb 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital was working from. The war diary mentions an aeroplane dropping first a flare to light up his target and then the rest of his deadly charge. As further reports, also contained in the war diary, show, there was no way the pilot could have claimed to have bombed the hospital by accident. Red Crosses were clearly visible from the altitude the pilot was flying at, there were no other recognisable military objectives around the Citadel. Plus, there had always been a hospital in the Citadel, an information that the German high Command had acknowledged, conform the rules of law.

One bomb fell on the operating theatre, where a team was still working. The two surgeons (Capt Meek & Lt Sage (USA)), Sisters McPherson and Pringle, the patient, the ordlerly and the SB present were immediately killed. further down in the citadel, the officer's ward was hit and the sister on night duty, sister Baldwin, was killed also. In total, two officers, three sisters, 16 orderlies and 111 patients were killed.

Two nurses (NS Hodge and Thompson) were later awarded the Military Medal for their bravery and steadfastness that night in the chaos that ensued the bombing, the first Awards to Canadian nurses.

 

The three nurses are buried together at Bagneux cemetery, a lovely and quiet little place, far from the buzz of the city.

 

Nurses.jpg.a5cc15c64ae27157f6cae5287f5088e5.jpg

 

More about them individually in the next post… have a meeting now…

 

M.

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Marilyne

As promised, some more about the three ladies in the picture here above.

Dorothy Baldwin was born in Toronto on the 10th October 1891 and lived most of ther life in Paris, Ontario, Brantford County.

She went to Paris High School and graduated as a nurse at Victoria Hospital, London, from which she enlisted, 2nd May 1917.Dorothy started her service overseas at Orpington and crossed to France on the 25th July 1917.

Dorothy had a brother in France, with the Canadian Mounted Rifles. He’s not on the Roll of Honour of the city, so we can surmise that he survived the war.Dorothy’s mother Mary had the honour of unveiling the Paris War Memorial on 11th November 1930.

 

N/S Mary Eden Lyal Pringle was born on the 4th September 1893 in Glasgow, Scotland. She came to Canada when her parents emigrated to Beaconsfield. Eden graduated as a nurse from Vancouver General Hospital in June 1916. From an newspaper article published a few days after her death, we know that Eden occupied a number of positions at the hospital and by the time she enlisted, on the 7th May 1917, she was assistant supervisor of the operating room at the General Hospital. Her colleagues described her as a very capable nurse, of a most lovable disposition, rare pluck and intensively patriotic.

Eden Pringle was only 24 when she died, one of the youngest Canadian nurses to die in the line of duty.

 

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Last but not least, Agnes Mc Pherson was born in Brandon, Manitoba on the 2nd March 1891. She enlisted in Kingston, Ontario in November 1916. We unfortunately know not much else about her life or her carreer.

 

M.

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Good morning all, 

It's about time to continue this journey, especially as my 3rd cycle is fast approaching and I might not have enough time to do a lot about the project during that period... but I do have all the pictures from Abbeville and Etaples ready for you!

Abbevill is mostly known for the nine WAACs who died in the Corpus Christi bombardment of 1918. We all know what happened: Abbevill was attacked, a truck on fire served as beacon for a pilot, who dropped an aerial torpedo which fell right on one of the air raid shelters. eight women were killed outright, another one died of her wounds later in the day. 

1449195138_Abbeville9.JPG.9593156a73b81a65ee5463510e6c0e50.JPG

They were the very first deaths on active service of female members of the Armed forces, as opposed to the nursing services. The deaths touched a nerve in Britain and the press was very fast in demonizing the enemy for killing women. But Chief controller of the WAAC Helen Gwynne-Vaughan reacted differently. she pointed out that: as we were replacing combatants, the enemy was entirely in order killing us if he could. The reporters saw the point… there was no [more] fuss in the Press. 

One name also to remember from that night is that of Phoebe Chapple, an Australian doctor who worked for the WAAC. The whole night, she worked on under extremely difficult circumstances, helping the wounded, regardless of her own safety. For her efforts that night, Phoebe Chapple earnt a Military Medal, the first woman doctor to received that honor. Some people, including colleague Dr Helen Mayo, thought that if she’d been a man, it would have been the MC! 

 

The first of these ladies I'd like to present is Margaret Selina Caswell. 

1689378083_MargeretSelinaCaswell.jpg.44885cd7778c8ae261aeac1698a9e3e5.jpg

 

She was born in 1896 is Ogbourne St Georges, Wiltshire. She was the second in the big family of ten children of Frederick and Mary Jane Caswell

Margaret was quick to offer her services to her country and enlisted in the Women’s Legion based in Dartford. Once the WAAC was created, she enlisted and was one of the first to embark in Southampton with destination France. She was posted in Abbeville and served as a waitress in the officer’s club.

After her death, Margaret’s mother answered the call sent out by the new Imperial War Museum for pictures and biographies of service men and women who gave their lives for King and Country. Mary Jane said of her daughter:  I shall be very pleased to send you a photo of my dear little daughter that laid down her precious young life for her King and beloved Country. She was so proud to be able to serve both and she was one of the best. Excuse me writing like this but I can't help it. I loved her so and it does seem so hard to think I will never see her in this world again

 

748079488_MargaretCaswell.JPG.35e1b3700b78b648b9f3fed42c64a256.JPG

 

 

 

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Ethel Francis Mary Parker was born in Islington in 1897, the eldest of six children. When she was a child, the family moved to Canterbury, where the father started work as a miner. Ethel enlisted with the WAAC right after it was formed and as “worker 9048” was posted in Abbeville as a waitress in an officer’s club. Only a few months later she was dead, aged only 21.

After her death, Ethel’s father asked that the epitaph “In honour lived, for honour died” be inscribed on her gravestone. He also had to specifically ask for his daughter’s name to be added to the Buttermarket War Memorial, as this was dedicated to the “men of Canterbury who gave their lives”. Initially reluctant to include a woman, the authorities had to give in and so PARKER, EFM, stands out on the memorial

313652278_EthelFMParker.jpg.499f530227eadab28057005b09961920.jpg

 

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T, Fazzini
  • Not all Nurses died on the western front..two US Red Cross Nurses died of typhoid while serving in siberia with US Forces 1918-1920
  • And not forget the Nurses who died when Hospital ships also became targets of War......
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T, Fazzini

Grover Case update -see following message

 

Edited by T, Fazzini
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T, Fazzini

In regarding to Albert Grover and his wife

CWGC record Cemetery Roster both are listed

https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/501666/ALBERT GROVER/#&gid=1&pid=2

at find a grave https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10893657/albert-grover

shows pctures of both their tombstones...both are CWGC issue

But.....she is not listed online on CWGC website....the reason..is that possibly she was a civilian.....{Just the same way that Scotland yard policeman who was lost when Lord Kitchner went dpwn on sea.... {Unlike World War II}  

 

Thus she is offically  already registered  in the CWGC burial register  and has a CWGC tomestone...yet she is not listed CWGC online....!!!!:wacko: 

I just checked with In from the COLD...WW I Criteria...she wasnt apparently member of Civilians exempts (VAD: QMNC) that are listed CWGC Online.........

Thus she will be offically registered and listed CWGC Burial roster..but not online

 

Because of her civilian status "This lady was buried in the cemetery before CWGC took over control of the site and she is recorded by them as having a 'Non-World War Grave in CWGC Care'. ...However, these NWW graves are not war graves and so they are not listed in the public part of the CWGC website and in the Roll of War Dead but they are recorded in their internal database." according to IFC

 

Rest In Peace

Edited by T, Fazzini
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7 hours ago, T, Fazzini said:
  • Not all Nurses died on the western front..

 

6 hours ago, T, Fazzini said:

In regarding to Albert Grover and his wife

 

 

Hi T. 

thanks for your input and attention to the work. 

I know that there are far more nurses who died during the war than only on the Western Front. But for know, I'm limiting my studies to them, lest it takes me the rest of my lifetime... I've been working on this for nearly two years now and have about HALF of all the answers I seek. So i'm going at it methodically, one after the other. 

The Grovers are indeed an interesting case. There are not many civilians buried in the CWGC cemeteries, and each is an interesting story. the difficulty for me is to find them, as they are not listed. Mrs Grover is not a stand alone case... where is the other?? That's for you guys to find out in one of the next installments... might take a while though. 

 

M. 

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Neil Mackenzie

I haven't been through all the pages so apologies if someone has done this already.  You cannot search the CWGC database on gender (at least not the publicly accessible one anyway). I have created the attached spreadsheet based on rank - it is incomplete as it only covers 99 women commemorated/buried in France so there will be more to add but it is a starter if you don't have a comprehensive list already.

 

I cannot attach Excel files here so have had to do it as a .csv file.

 

NeilWomen_Casualties_France_csv.csv

Edited by Neil Mackenzie
Correct casualty number
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Neil Mackenzie

A couple of things I noticed.

Although CWGC does not record civilians who died in WW1 their database does currently list some women (and men) with the 'rank' of Civilian from that time. There are also a few women in the Young Men's Christian Association.

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Neil, 

Thanks for your input.

I did the basic research on "regiment"... or organisation. And then only those in Belgium and France.

And of course there was a lot of help from forum Pals and just the stories in various books. Mrs Grover's case is quite famously quoted in Lyn McDonald's "Roses of NML". Dame Ines Branfoot (Rouen) is not in the database either, but anyone who read about the Rouen Coffee shop knows the grave's there. So it sometimes has a lot to do with luck as well as thorough research. And again the same is true for the Women who worked for the Red Cross. There are six of them in France, of which only one in a CGWC cemetery (Marseilles)... also an exception. The others are buried in French civilian cemeteries. 

I have 119 cases to study... have done 66 so far.

 

M.

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Kevin Tobin

Marilyne

 

Only just found this topic. Fantastic idea and wonderful research.

 

Look forward to more.

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T, Fazzini

PS Additionaly In regard to Mrs grover's headfstone according to IFC:

".... that she only has a headstone looking like a war grave stone because that was the only style available at the time.

 

After WW2 a specific style was introduced for NWW headstones in CWGC cemeteries (the MoD introduced very similar modified stones for other NWW graves). The style for CWGC maintained NWW graves is exactly the same as the war grave stone but has clipped corners as in the illustration below.

 

Should her stone need replacing at any point, it will be replaced by one in this style to indicate its status as a NWW grave

 

[The attachment showed a headstone with clipped off Corners at the sides,,,(T.F.)  Even in cemetereies .a distictions{!}]

Edited by T, Fazzini
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4 hours ago, T, Fazzini said:

 

Should her stone need replacing at any point, it will be replaced by one in this style to indicate its status as a NWW grave

 

 

 

I'll guess we'll soon know, as the status of the headstone in 2 months ago was: 

D94A1050.JPG.de4395b7ca3e903801abf1425183e7d4.JPG

 

M.

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Let's just go on in Abbeville first... 

 

Annie Elizabeth Moores was born in Gasper, Stourton, Wiltshire in 1891, as the youngest of four children.

In 1911, she gave her occupation to the Census as being living in servant for Mrs Geraldine J.K. Mccoy in Farnborough, Hampshire. Her medal index card indicates that she started work in France on the 5th April 1918 as a cook in Abbeville.

Her mother wrote to the IWM’s Sub committee on Women’s War work after the war to present them with a photograph of her daughter for the project, enclosing the best photograph I have of my late daughter. There seems to have been some doubts about the format of the picture, it not being of “cabinet size”, but as the picture is available, I guess the problem was solved. 

 

1272549020_AnnieMoores.jpg.c6927e1b87f9010eb023f5d45b56aa8a.jpg

 

1014041607_AnnEMoores.JPG.dfa8ee5fa06838e61070169965df985e.JPG

 

 

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On 31/08/2020 at 16:42, Marilyne said:

 And again the same is true for the Women who worked for the Red Cross. There are six of them in France, of which only one in a CGWC cemetery (Marseilles)... also an exception. The others are buried in French civilian cemeteries. 

 

 

 

Hi Marilyne

Just checking if you've got Nursing Sister Annie Watson Bain (Order of St John) on your list - she's buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery (from memory, near a couple of the YMCA ladies)

 

Keep up the great work, Frev

 

Edit:  Obviously my brain is not working (nothing new there!) - have just realized you've done a write up on her at the top of this very page!!!!

Edited by frev
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I have long been thinking to reply to this topic which has a totally wrong title. This topic is only about women who had been in the service of the British Empire who are buried on the Western Front. Not a word about the French, Belgian and yes, German women... Some of these German women are even buried in CWGC cemeteries. There is the usual one-sidedness towards everything BEF, as if they were the only fighting force in the war...

 

For the rest: I think that the biographies are well researched and very interesting, but please, either change the title or acknowledge/include the other nations' women buried on the Western Front.

 

Jan

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