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Nurses Awarded Military Medals


Nick Thornicroft
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Norman thanks very much for the reply, thats great. So is the citation I found in LG (Jan 19) for the Royal Red Cross indeed for Annie Mackenzie Weir? Anne, my manager, will be chuffed with this, thanks very much. by the way, Annie Weir lived to the ripe old age of 101! Hopefully I'll get a pic of her soon and i'll post it up.

Thanks again,

Barrie

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No, the Annie Weir who was Gazetted the ARRC in the London Gazette of 1 January 1919 (page 58) was a Sister in the Territorial Force Nursing Service and received it for service in Egypt. Totally different person. Sorry !!

Norman

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Here is an article taken from a local newspaper on Annie Weir regarding the award of her MM.

'The Motherwell Time - Friday, November 23, 1917'

post-9547-1154555940.jpg

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and another, this time regarding her Red Cross service cross - this article came under the headline PRESENTATION TO RED CROSS NURSE and had had the same photo as above :

'The Motherwell Times - July, 4, 1919'

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And this one, regarding her special service cross - under the headline PRESENTATION TO RED CROSS NURSE and using the same photo as above. This article appeared in the 4th of July 1919 edition of the Motherwell Times.

post-9547-1154556407.jpg

I have seen an article from a newspaper, celebrating Annie's 100th Birthday - you can still see the resemblance to the 1917 photo. Here's to a great lady!

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  • 6 months later...
  • 8 months later...
91 MMs were awarded to nurses according to my figures. It was the only bravery award open to women, since none had official status as officers. This was not resented, however. As the Matron-in-Chief in France wrote in her final report: 'The Nursing Service, as a whole, have considered it a great honour to be given a medal which is awarded solely for bravery in the field.'

Charles M

Looking for further information on A/Sister Etherlinda Maude - my Grandfathers sister. I met her once and remember she had a glass eye! Lived somewhere in Wales and was the widow of a Mr Morrison who I believe was also in the medical profession.

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David

I personally can't help you over Sister Maude. Sue Light, a longstanding member of this forum, is a nursing expert and probably your best bet.

Charles M

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I don't know if these qualify for inclusion but a couple might be although they didn't win the MM were recognised for their services. I found these names with others in my research for the compilation of a Nominal Roll for all that enlisted in my city in WW1. None are included in the names on our WW1 Honour Roll.

BAIRD EILEEN Greek Military Medal of Merit 4th class Enlisted 1/12/16 RTA 18/1/19

HAZELTON-HEARD AMY MID Enlisted 31/7/15 RTA 16/4/19

SPALDING FLORENCE R.R.C. 2/C MID Enlisted 21/11/14 RTA 19/3/16 Disch Married 21/10/16

TWYNAM ALICE R.R.C 1/C MID Enlisted 5/2/16 RTA 28/2/19

These are the ones that were decorated there are others whose dedication went unrecognised officially but were just as devoted and caring as those that were

Rod

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Looking for further information on A/Sister Etherlinda Maude - my Grandfathers sister. I met her once and remember she had a glass eye! Lived somewhere in Wales and was the widow of a Mr Morrison who I believe was also in the medical profession.

Many thanks Charles - as you can see I am new at posting on forums !

I know Etherlinda Maude was awarded the MM and was in the QAIMNS and mentioned in the London Gazette - what she achieved is more the mystery. Hopefully Sue will be able to clarify this for me.

Thanks again

Dave

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Dave

The citation is below. She also has a service file at the National Archives, reference WO399/5732 - the files have been thinned out, but should it add to her story.

Sue

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Two others awarded in 1916 were to Elsie Knocker (aka Baroness Elizabeth de T'Serclaes) and Mairi Chisholm, the 'Women of Pervyse'. Mrs Knocker was a trained nurse but Mairi Chisholm was not, although auxiliary nursing - along with ambulance driving, retrieving wounded men, and general care and welfare work - was the reason for her award.

I have a book signed by Elsie Knocker - Flanders and other fields. - offered it to the family as it is signed by her but they could not be bothered to reply.

She certainly was an 'unusual' lady.

stevem

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Dave

The citation is below. She also has a service file at the National Archives, reference WO399/5732 - the files have been thinned out, but should it add to her story.

Sue

Many many thanks Sue - I,ve 'Googled' many an hour trying to find this information without success

Dave

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QUOTE (alacrity174 @ Feb 13 2007, 08:38 PM) http://rcnarchive.rcn.org.uk/data/VOLUME05...ptember1917.pdf

Thanks for this link - gives me another source!

I am trying to trace more details of the following:

http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/307...upplements/8029

His Majesty the KING has been pleased to approve of the award of the Military Medal to the under mentioned Ladies -for distinguished services in the Field, as recorded: —

Miss Sarah Bonnell, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, Miss Evelyn Gordon-Brown, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, Miss Aileen Maude Faulkner, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, Miss Evelyn Faulder, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, Miss Nellie Dewhurst, V.A.D., attd. First Aid Nursing Yeomanry.

For gallantry and conspicuous devotion to duty, when an ammunition dump had been set on fire by enemy bombs and the only available ambulance for the removal of wounded had been destroyed. These ladies subsequently arrived with three ambulances, and, despite the danger arising from various explosions, succeeded in removing all the wounded. Their conduct throughout was splendid. War Office, 8th July, 1918.

The RCN link gives me the details of the investiture, but does anyone know where I can find details of the actual event - my Great Aunt never mentioned it to me! Would it be mentioned in a War Diary - if so how do I find details of the unit involved?

Many thanks

David Faulder

Edit (April 2009): Updating the link

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  • 2 weeks later...
91 MMs were awarded to nurses according to my figures. It was the only bravery award open to women, since none had official status as officers. This was not resented, however. As the Matron-in-Chief in France wrote in her final report: 'The Nursing Service, as a whole, have considered it a great honour to be given a medal which is awarded solely for bravery in the field.'

Charles M

Canadian Nurses were officers. The Canadians wanted to award them MCs, and there was a long discussion from the British, well documented, explaining why they could not have MCs. Peter

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Whatever the Canadians thought was the correct title for their nurses, the fact remains that while overseas, their status, work, responsibility and accountability was identical to their counterparts in the British, Australian, South African and New Zealand nursing services, all of whom were considered to have officer status. The Canadian authorities were, in fact, very late in entering the discussion over the award of the Military Medal as opposed to the Military Cross, but I thought perhaps it might be useful to post some of the text of the documents. They are held at The National Archives – WO32/4965. Rather long, but hopefully worth it.

It started with a letter dated 26th January 1917 from The Nursing Mirror, Southampton Street, Strand, addressed to the Secretary to the War Office.

‘With regard to the Military Medal, which has been awarded to two more Nursing Sisters this week, we have on two occasions drawn attention in our columns to the incongruity that they should appear in the lists together with non-commissioned officers and privates.

Members of the Nursing Force, as you are aware, are recognized in the Army as officers, and as such, should rightfully be awarded the Military Cross, which, we understand, is the same regard as the Military Medal, but the former is reserved for officers, and the latter for men. If we are wrong in this statement, perhaps you will kindly correct us.

We should be much indebted to you if you could give us any information as to how we should proceed to get this matter adjusted. You will, we are sure, at once recognize the anomaly of the present state of affairs.’

Signed by the Editor

The second paragraph in a reply from B.B. Cubitt at War Office dated 1st February 1917 reads:

‘It is noticed by the Council that it is claimed that Nurses should be awarded the Military Cross by virtue of their status. In reply I would point out that the Military Medal is not awarded to Ladies by virtue of their holding positions as Nurses, but is awarded by reason of the fact that, as a mark of Royal favour, His Majesty was pleased to approve an extension dated 21st June 1916 of the warrant of the Military Medal, which extension ordained that “the Military Medal may under exceptional circumstances, on the special recommendation of the Commander-in-Chief in the Field, be awarded to women, whether subjects or foreign persons, who have shewn bravery and devotion under fire”.

The question of the position of Nurses in relation to other ranks does not, therefore, arise so far as the award of the Military Medal is concerned.’

The next letter is from Sir Frederick Ponsonby at Windsor Castle, to Major-General Sir F. J. Davies, K.C.B., at the War Office, dated 9th April 1917

‘My dear Davies

Quite unofficially I heard by chance that there was some dissatisfaction expressed amongst the nurses at the Military Medal being given to them, instead of the Military Cross. They argued that this was tantamount to treating them as private soldiers, and that as they were supposed to have the rank of an officer they should, therefore be given the Military Cross instead of the Military Medal.

There is, of course, something to be said for their contention, and as the matter may possibly be discussed in the press, I think it is only right to pass this on to you for what it is worth.

Naturally, when women become eligible for the Order of the British Empire, and understand better the various grades, they will certainly be dissatisfied with medals instead of the Orders.’

The reply is dated 10th April 1917:

Francis Davies to Sir Frederick Ponsonby

‘Sir Alfred Keogh concurs with me in the view that there is no incongruity. His Majesty was please to extend to women, the award of the Military Medal for “Bravery in the Field” – and the Medal is only conferred on nurses for acts of bravery apart from their professional duties, in fact it is won in their capacity as “women”.

The Military Cross won by a combatant officer in respect of combatant duties has, as an equivalent, the Royal Red Cross, conferred on a Nurse for professional duties. The Military Cross is, therefore, to the officer, what the Red Cross is to the Nurse an appreciation of eminent services rendered in their respective spheres.

To extend the Military Crosses to Nurses would possibly open the door for a similar claim to the D.S.O. In practice Nurses may be said to be regarded as “Officers” for purposes of emoluments such as quarters, fuel and light and servants allowance, and though, for these purposes, the majority of Nurses draw the rate laid down for the Class which covers Captains, there are certain higher grades which count for allowances in grades of rank higher than Captains. As the award of Military Cross is restricted to Captains and under, such ladies would possibly consider themselves eligible for the D.S.O. if their juniors were made eligible for the Military Cross.

I have seen no comments on the fact that Nurses are awarded the Military Medal….. [other than the Nursing Mirror who have not replied or commented further]

I quite agree that the Order of the British Empire may lead to certain ambitions. But so long as the Military Medal is awarded to women for specific acts of gallantry, and the Royal Red Cross to Nurses for professional duties, I suggest that our position is secure, and that no injustice if being done.’

The matter then seems to have fallen silent until on the 21st December 1917 a letter from the Assistant Military Secretary, Overseas Military Forces of Canada to the War Office:

‘It has been observed that Matrons and Nursing Sisters belonging to the Imperial Army, have recently been awarded the Military Medal for services rendered by them in the Field of operations.

In this connection I am requested to draw your attention to the fact that Matrons and Nursing Sisters of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada hold commissioned rank, and in that event, I am to enquire whether such Matrons and Nursing Sisters would be eligible for the award of the Military Cross.

During recent bombing raids on casualty Clearing Stations and Hospitals behind the lines, these Nursing Sisters have shewn great courage and devotion to duty.

The matter might be brought before the attention of the Field Marshal Commanding in Chief of the Field, for whatever recommendations he might consider necessary under the circumstances.

Will you kindly, therefore, place this matter before the proper Authorities and advise these Headquarters the result. An early reply will be appreciated.’

And the reply dated 5 January 1918 from B. B. Cubitt

‘I am commanded by the Army Council to acknowledge… [etc]

In reply I am to state that the Royal Warrant of the Military Cross does not allow for the award of this decoration to women, nor is the Army Council of opinion that circumstances justify consideration of the extension of the terms of the Royal Warrant.

I am to point out that the Military Cross awarded to an officer for service in the field is considered as the equivalent of the Royal Red Cross conferred on a nurse in recognition of her professional services as a nurse.

The Military Medal can be awarded to both men and women and when conferred on a nurse for ‘bravery in the Field” such award is for bravery, apart from professional duties and is therefore won in her capacity as “woman” not necessarily because she is a nurse.

The Army Council is full cognisant of and thoroughly appreciates the great courage and devotion to duty displayed by nurses during raids on Casualty Clearing Stations and Hospitals behind the lines.

At the same time the Council is thoroughly satisfied that the Field Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, the British Armies in France will in all cases use his discretionary powers in regard to rewarding deserving services.’

As in so many things at that time, the King was consulted as there is a letter dated 9 Jan 1918 from Buckingham Palace saying that he quite agreed with the conclusions of the Army Council in the matter. I've certainly never seen any personal correspondence from British nurses saying they were unhappy with their Military Medals - quite the opposite. I tend to think that the dissatisfaction stemmed more from the press and higher military authorities than from the nurses themselves.

Sue

Sue

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  • 3 weeks later...
QUOTE (David Faulder @ Nov 21 2007, 06:31 PM) I am trying to trace more details of the following:

http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/307...upplements/8029

His Majesty the KING has been pleased to approve of the award of the Military Medal to the under mentioned Ladies -for distinguished services in the Field, as recorded: —

Miss Sarah Bonnell, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, Miss Evelyn Gordon-Brown, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, Miss Aileen Maude Faulkner, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, Miss Evelyn Faulder, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, Miss Nellie Dewhurst, V.A.D., attd. First Aid Nursing Yeomanry.

For gallantry and conspicuous devotion to duty, when an ammunition dump had been set on fire by enemy bombs and the only available ambulance for the removal of wounded had been destroyed. These ladies subsequently arrived with three ambulances, and, despite the danger arising from various explosions, succeeded in removing all the wounded. Their conduct throughout was splendid. War Office, 8th July, 1918.

The RCN link gives me the details of the investiture, but does anyone know where I can find details of the actual event - my Great Aunt never mentioned it to me! Would it be mentioned in a War Diary - if so how do I find details of the unit involved?

Many thanks

David Faulder

Update on this:

  • Janet Lee in War Girls (p200) mentions that on 18th May 1918, ambulances from FANY Unit 8 (based at St Omer and attached to the British Second Army) were called out to an arms dump "along the Arques Road" (elsewhere spelt Arcques) which had been hit and that on that night 16 Military Medals were earned by the Corps (out of a total of 18 awarded during the war).
  • Janet Lee infers that these medals were awarded by General Sir Herbert Plumer at Second Army Headquarters. However, the British Journal of Nursing 24 May 1919 records that three of the six (including Evelyn Faulder and Sarah Bonnell) received their medals from the King at an investiture on 15th May in the Quadrangle of Buckingham Palace.
  • Lynette Beardwood on FANY Our Proud History shows "Sadie" Bonnell being Decorated by General Sir Herbert Plumer.

Questions:

  1. How do I find out more about what happened at Arcques Road outside St Omer on 18th May 1918? Presumably it is mentioned in some War Diary somewhere - but which? Who had charge of arms dumps?
  2. If people were decorated in the field, might they be separately also invested afterwards?
  3. (Aside) Is there a reason for a WO notice dated 8 July 1918 being published on 5 July 1918?

TIA

David

Edit: (April 2009) Updated the LG link

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[*]Janet Lee in War Girls (p200) mentions that on 18th May 1918, ambulances from FANY Unit 8 (based at St Omer and attached to the British Second Army) were called out to an arms dump "along the Arques Road" (elsewhere spelt Arcques) which had been hit and that on that night 16 Military Medals were earned by the Corps (out of a total of 18 awarded during the war).

David

Janet Lee's suggestion that 16 Military Medals were awarded for actions on 18th May 1918 is incorrect. I have a feeling that her information comes from the Archives of the current day First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, which actually has this information on its web site, but further research shows it not to be so. 18 MMs were awarded in total to the service; five of those during the months of October/November 1918, and 7 in a separate incident at St. Omer on 26 June 1918. I'm just flagging this up, as an example of how it pays to go fairly carefully, even when dealing with reputable sources. Having said that, it might be worth contacting the FANY, to see if they have any more information, bearing in mind that there already seems to be some embellishment of events over the years - the address can be found here [the same-ish link as you have already posted, so perhaps you've already trodden the path]:

First Aid Nursing Yeomanry

But I think that it might be very hard to track down any other accounts of this incident, other than by a real stroke of good luck - you have all the basic details of where and when, and even if it figures in any unit diaries, I can't see much more being added to it. I imagine that the Base Commandant's diary would be a likely one, if it can be tracked down at The National Archives. But there were so many bombing raids at that time, with massive destruction, and none of it seems to figure very highly in official documents.

Your link to the 'decorating' of Sadie Bonnell is the same one that gives entirely wrong information about the dates of the MMs, so I'm not sure if I trust it :rolleyes: - but that photo shows Sadie Bonnell shaking hands with General Plumer, and what she received from him in addition is not entirely clear! I would say that if a woman was awarded a Military Medal 'In the Field' then she would not have repeated the process at Buckingham Palace; if she had received just a ribbon, then she might have gone on to an Investiture later.

Sue

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I would strongly suspect that what Daddy Plumer was presenting was the ribbon of the MM and not the actual item. This would almost certainly not have been available at that time or place.

Many years ago I did a complete loist of all the MMs won by the FANY and also a list of all the mostly ungazetted French and Belgian awards they received, taken from the records of the Corps. Why they persist in quoting the incorrect figures from Irene Ward's history I don't know. In all their lists they invariably miss out Christina Urquhart.

Still, you can lead a horse............... etc.

Norman

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  • 11 months later...

I have a copy of R J Tennent MM's Red Herrings of 1918. She was a VAD ambulance driver with the St Omer Convoy and was awarded her MM for bravery during an air raid on St Omer on April 1918 (she was Josephine Pennell at the time). Her award, together with those for ten other members of the Convoy, was gazetted in July and they were decorated with the riband of the MM by Plumer. She herself received the actual medal at Buckingham Palace at a later date. I suspect that this was what also happened with those involved in the Arcques explosion, of which Josephinie Tennent makes no mention.

As for awarding the MM rather than the MC the Matron-in-Chief in FRance in her final report commented: 'The Nursing Service, as a whole, have conosidered it a great honour to be given a medal which is awarded solely for bravery in the field.'

Charles M

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  • 1 month later...

May I offer this thread a welcome to the 'Classics' section, and my apologies that it was not elevated before. My thanks to Sue for slapping my wrist and making me do it. :)

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This thread well deserves its place in the Classics!

I do have a question.

I know that QAIMS etc had to unmarried ladies, and in one of the threads above it mentions that a nurse left, discharged, due to marriage.

Surely this was a waste of talent? Someone who was a trained nurse, and had served in a CCS, even getting a MiD, was surely a resource.

Was her training and expertise just thrown away when she got married?

What happened to married nurses?

Although it was much rarer in those days, could divorced nurses go back to their pre-married status?

Bruce

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  • 3 months later...
QUOTE (David Faulder @ Nov 21 2007, 07:31 PM) [/url]Thanks for this link - gives me another source!

I am trying to trace more details of the following:

http://www.london-gazette.co.uk/issues/307...upplements/8029

His Majesty the KING has been pleased to approve of the award of the Military Medal to the under mentioned Ladies -for distinguished services in the Field, as recorded: —

Miss Sarah Bonnell, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, Miss Evelyn Gordon-Brown, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, Miss Aileen Maude Faulkner, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, Miss Evelyn Faulder, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, Miss Nellie Dewhurst, V.A.D., attd. First Aid Nursing Yeomanry.

For gallantry and conspicuous devotion to duty, when an ammunition dump had been set on fire by enemy bombs and the only available ambulance for the removal of wounded had been destroyed. These ladies subsequently arrived with three ambulances, and, despite the danger arising from various explosions, succeeded in removing all the wounded. Their conduct throughout was splendid. War Office, 8th July, 1918.

The RCN link gives me the details of the investiture, but does anyone know where I can find details of the actual event - my Great Aunt never mentioned it to me! Would it be mentioned in a War Diary - if so how do I find details of the unit involved?

Many thanks

David Faulder

A photograph which includes the above, which I don't think I have previously posted.

scn437.jpg

Any identification of individuals would be very welcome.

David

Edit (April 2009): Updated the LG Link

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Great images Sue, and nice to see this thread brought to life again :)

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