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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

VAD name on War memorial


Tony Fewkes

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I am putting some 'colour' to the names on Hertingfordbury Parish War Memorial at Birch Green Herts prior to restoration.

There is only one lady commemorated along with thirty-two men

Olive de Thoren VAD

Can anyone help in finding information on this lady please

Many thanks

Tony

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Adrian and John

I am astonished, amazed and delighted.

Full name - where born- great photograph and how she died and all in a couple of hours.

Just what we are looking for in our efforts to record more details about the names on our memorial

What a marvellous resource this forum is

Once again grateful thanks

Tony

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Having been astounded by the speed of information on Olive Millicent De Satge De Thoren VAD

could anyone suggest why this lady from Cheltenham should be commemorated on a Memorial in darkest Herts. Would any records show where she died from septic poisoning and where she served as a VAD.

Many thanks

Tony Fewkes

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Olive's family history is difficult to trace because her father was apparently decended from a French emigré noble family, the barons and viscounts of Thoren, which seems to have had branches all over the world. It's also difficult 'cos that surname's a b*gger to search for - spelt differently every time!

Her father Oscar William dSdT was apparently born in Worcester, but was a naval officer so probably travelled a great deal, and mother Alice Drury appears to have been born in Indonesia.

Perhaps they only lived at Cheltenham for a few years.

Oscar William appears on the 1891 census living alone at 10 Alhambra Road, Portsea, Portsmouth, age 47, "Retired Cap. Navy, Now Principal Of The Jersey & Southsea Military Educational Establishment". I can't find any trace of his wife and kids at that time. Overseas?

Millicent dSdT, who must be Oscar W's mother, died at Portsea in 1884 aged 77.

(N.B. Oscar William dSdT should not be confused with Oscar John dSdT, who must be a cousin. He was a sheep farmer in Australia for many years before retiring to Folkestone, Kent, in 1882, where he appears on the 1891 and 1901 censuses. There's a biography of him here: http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A040058b.htm)

Olive's 2-years-elder sister Violet Alice Ione was also born in Cheltenham in 1874, but her 2-years-younger brother Lionel Aymar was born at Portsea (1878).

Can't find any DoBs in England & Wales for her other siblings, Oscar Ellis, Nina Katherine and Wanda Beatrice, - overseas perhaps?

By 1914, Olive was 38 and unmarried. Oscar William had died in 1900, Alice probably not long after, Violet, Lionel and Nina were married, Oscar Ellis and Wanda - maybe married or overseas or both.

So I would guess that Olive is commemorated in Hertingfordbury because she was living there at the time - or at least before the war.

Maybe John has some more information, like where she died - I can't find her on CWCG.

Adrian

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Adrian

Thanks for the potted history of the de Satge de Thoren family and thanks also for the acronym dSdT- it sure makes life easier. Putting that surname into any search engine or data base guarantees an evening of entertainment.

Why was Olive dSdT commemorated on our Memorial?. We wonder if she may have been buried locally and that’s our next area for research.

The other thought is that as a VAD she may have been working at one of the many local Country Estate houses in this area that were acting as Hospitals and Recovery centres. Our nearest, Panshanger House, sadly no longer in existence, was the home of Lord Desborough, whose two sons -Capt Hon Julian Grenfell DSO Royal Dragoons (WW1 Poet) and 2nd Lt Gerald Grenfell Rifle Brigade are both commemorated on the H’Bury Memorial. I believe Panshanger was a Hospital for a period during the war.

Presumably she contracted septic poisoning whilst working amongst the sick and wounded but she doesn’t appear to be on the CWGC data base. I wonder what the criteria is for that? I assume not necessarily a CWGC headstone.

best regards

Tony

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Sorry to say, I have no further info for Olive, but it looks like three other girls from the family were also VAD's, and the brother Lionel was an officer with the Royal East Kent Yeomanry. Link to their medal index cards below. I can't find one for Olive, so she probably never served overseas.

John.

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documen...mp;mediaarray=*

Also found Olives death: She was aged 39. Her death was registered District of Pwllhell, Volume 11b, page 451.

I believe Pwllhell is in Wales, but I stand to be corrected. You should now be able to send for for death certificate.

John.

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Tony, Just a few snippets. If her name is on the Hertingfordbury War Memorial it is most likely that it was because this was her home or she had close relatives there. The local memorial committee would not likely have put her name on it just because she worked at the local VAD hospital although this could be a possibility. Perhaps she spent a lot of time with a married sister who lived there as both parents were likely to be dead by this time. Her death certificate was issued in Pwllheli, North Wales suggesting that this is where she died and it is more likely that she worked and died there. Septic poisoning I thought was normally through a cut or graze. If the authorities could not be certain that the poisoning was contracted whilst on duty then she wouldn't be eligible for a CWGC-tended grave and headstone. So where is she buried? Possibly at Pwllheli but my guess is that the family were well heeled and her body was returned home - where ever that was at the time. If you have the time and inclination a stroll around the churchyard at St. Mary's church looking for a private headstone may prove fruitful. Or any other burial grounds within the Hertingfordbury parish council boundary. At least the name should jump out at you should you see it !!!

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Wonderful to see a photo of Olive. Olive is my 1st cousin 3xtimes removed. Her mother Alice Drury was my Great Grand Aunt. I can provide the de thoren ancestors back for six generations but, of course, I can give you significantly more information about her mother's family. In relation to her immediate family you might find the following interesting.

Olive's grandfather came from France and was naturalised in 1836. Olive's father Oscar William was educated at Harrow and then Oxford. The Times summed up his career in a very short obituary in 1900 "The death took place, in London, on September 14 in his 64th year of Major Oscar William de Satge de Thoren, who served as Deputy Assistant - Quartermaster-General in the Abyssinian War of 1868, and was mentioned in despatches for his services. He joined the army in 1858 and retired from the 43rd Regiment (now the 1st Battalion Oxfordshire Light Infantry) in 1881." The Times is notably silent at this point about Oscar's situation as a co-respondent to a divorce case in 1868 of Madan vs Madan, although at the time The Times published a great deal about the case. Oscar was required to pay damages of 1500 pounds. No wonder he was sent off to Abyssinia!! He married my 2xGreat Grand Aunt Alice four years later in 1872. They had eight children: six girls and two boys. Olive was the second eldest child and the second eldest girl.

Olive was born in Cheltenham in 1876 primarily because Cheltenham attracted members of the Indian Civil service and retired members of the aarmy serving in India. Olive's grandfather was Lieutenant Colonel in her Majesty's Staff in Madras and Comptroller of Millitary Accounts at Madras. He died in 1870. Her aunt had married a member of the Indian Civil Service (my great great grandfather and father-in-law of Captain Frank Brandt of the HMS Monmouth). Her great grandfather was Edward Presgrave who died prematurely in 1830, Resident Councillor of Singapore, Resident at Penang and previously translator, Judge and Magistrate of Bencoolen and Resident of Mannah.

Olive had two younger brothers: Lionel Aymar who joined the 5th Lancers in 1905 and was RE during the Great War; and, Oscar Aylmer Ellis a commander in the Royal Navy who died in 1937.

The de Thorens were relatively well off and retained landholdings in France (Chateau de Thoren, Villefranche, Pyrenees POrientales) as well as at Briedons Norton, Tewkesbury. Olive's uncle Sinclair was a stock broker and died in 1921. The Times reported that the Estate had a net value of 4,304 pounds and his trustees were instructed to erect a memorial window for his niece Olive Milicent de Satge de Thorn. The report is a little unclear but the window was probably to be at the English Church at Vernet-les-Bains.

Hope you find this useful, best wishes, Kay

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Kay

Thank you for all the information and detail on the de Thoren family and in particular Olive Millicent.

Clearly you have a very interesting and varied family background.

I wonder if your records and research revealed any reason, any clue, however small, as to why Olive died in Pwllheli in North Wales and yet is commemorated on Hertingfordbury War Memorial in Hertfordshire. Somebody, perhaps family, must have requested to have her name added to the Memorial or maybe she is buried in this area.

I will be taking some pictures of the names on the Memorial and also on the Memorial plaque inside St Mary's Parish Church Hertingfordbury. I will send these to you in the next week or so.

once again many thanks

Tony

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Kay

Thank you for all the information and detail on the de Thoren family and in particular Olive Millicent.

Clearly you have a very interesting and varied family background.

I wonder if your records and research revealed any reason, any clue, however small, as to why Olive died in Pwllheli in North Wales and yet is commemorated on Hertingfordbury War Memorial in Hertfordshire. Somebody, perhaps family, must have requested to have her name added to the Memorial or maybe she is buried in this area.

I will be taking some pictures of the names on the Memorial and also on the Memorial plaque inside St Mary's Parish Church Hertingfordbury. I will send these to you in the next week or so.

once again many thanks

Tony

Tony, I should be grateful if you would copy me in with photographs too, please, Jim

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Just wanted to say thanks to all for sharing this fascinating insight into Olive and her family. Wishing you luck with your search for her grave Tony.

Cheers, Frev

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To All

Thanks for all your interest and help with this lady.

Here she is on the Memorial Plaque at St Mary's Parish Church Hertingfordbury

Thanks once again

cheers

Tonypost-14431-1173551539.jpg

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  • 3 weeks later...

Tony,

You asked if I could discover why Olive came to be in North Wales. I can not be definitive on this, but after putting together some fragments, I think it was because she was staying with her sister Violet Alice Ione Clayton (nee de Thoren). Violet had married Gerald Edward Cririe Clayton in 1908. Gerald was a barrister and he and his wife lived in Penarwel, Llanbedrog, North Wales. In the Great War Gerald was a 2nd Lieutenant with the Royal Marines, dieing on 5 September 1915 and is buried at the local cemetery at Llanbedrog. It is likely that Olive went to stay with her widowed sister to assist with Violet's children - Ralph, Aymar and Evelyn. Violet eventually sold her house in Penarwel in 1926 just prior to her remarriage to William Eatherley.

Hope this is useful. Best wishes, Kay

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  • 2 weeks later...
Tony,

You asked if I could discover why Olive came to be in North Wales. I can not be definitive on this, but after putting together some fragments, I think it was because she was staying with her sister Violet Alice Ione Clayton (nee de Thoren). Violet had married Gerald Edward Cririe Clayton in 1908. Gerald was a barrister and he and his wife lived in Penarwel, Llanbedrog, North Wales. In the Great War Gerald was a 2nd Lieutenant with the Royal Marines, dieing on 5 September 1915 and is buried at the local cemetery at Llanbedrog. It is likely that Olive went to stay with her widowed sister to assist with Violet's children - Ralph, Aymar and Evelyn. Violet eventually sold her house in Penarwel in 1926 just prior to her remarriage to William Eatherley.

Hope this is useful. Best wishes, Kay

Kay

Thanks for your information of why Olive was in North Wales. Apologies for my delayed reply but I've been diverted by the Canadian Vimy 2007 Commemorations taking place over the Easter weekend. Apart from the main event at Vimy on Easter monday attended by the Queen and the Prime Ministers of Canada and France and well supported by many many Canadians, I and my wife attended the burial of a Canadian soldier Pte Herbert Peterson of the 49th Edmonton Btn.(his remains have recently been verified by DNA techniques). Very moving since this was the Battalion my Father served with throughout the war although he missed the Vimy battles since he was wounded on the Somme at Courcelette, returning to the Btn in late 1917.

Best wishes

Tony

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  • 2 years later...

This is my first post -- not sure I am in the right place, but here goes. I am researching a cousin who was a VAD and served in France. She left a memoir which mentions the Chateau de Thorens near Cannes. She worked there as a nursing assistant. I am just wondering if anyone can confirm that the Chateau was in fact used as a hospital during the war, and whether there may be more information I can find about it. She lso mentions a place called Sefton Lodge. Appreciate any help!

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John

It was the Chateau De Thorence, the home of a Mr Goodhart Rendel, who placed it at the disposal of Lady Dudley's Department, free of charge, as a convalescent home for wounded officers. It also included Sefton Lodge which was lent by a Mr and Mrs Gladstone. It opened in February 1915 and was able to accommodate 17 officers. The Commandant was a Colonel Wake, assisted by his wife as Matron. The Medical Officer was a Dr Rich. The cost of the home was borne by Lady Dudley (through subscriptions from her friends) and the Red Cross. In a number of cases officers were accompanied by their wives at the Chateau, the travelling expenses paid for by the Red Cross. The home closed on June 1st, 1915.

In December 1916, it was again placed at the disposal of Lady Dudley, along with Sefton Lodge, as an Auxiliary Hospital for 18 Officers. The whole enterprise was funded by Mr and Mrs Bertram Philips. It closed on April 5th, 1917.

Source - Reports of the Joint War Committee of British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John, 1921.

TR

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Hello Tony.

Apologies for the photo and the quality of the angle. I was visiting York Minster photographing the entry on the memorial for another V.A.D.

Kindest regards.

Chris.

post-47-1253915206.jpg

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John

It was the Chateau De Thorence, the home of a Mr Goodhart Rendel, who placed it at the disposal of Lady Dudley's Department, free of charge, as a convalescent home for wounded officers. It also included Sefton Lodge which was lent by a Mr and Mrs Gladstone. It opened in February 1915 and was able to accommodate 17 officers. The Commandant was a Colonel Wake, assisted by his wife as Matron. The Medical Officer was a Dr Rich. The cost of the home was borne by Lady Dudley (through subscriptions from her friends) and the Red Cross. In a number of cases officers were accompanied by their wives at the Chateau, the travelling expenses paid for by the Red Cross. The home closed on June 1st, 1915.

In December 1916, it was again placed at the disposal of Lady Dudley, along with Sefton Lodge, as an Auxiliary Hospital for 18 Officers. The whole enterprise was funded by Mr and Mrs Bertram Philips. It closed on April 5th, 1917.

Source - Reports of the Joint War Committee of British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John, 1921.

TR

Terry, thank you! Your detailed information helps me greatly. So it was THORENCE, not THORENS? Victoria did actually write "Thorence," but I thought she had made an error in spelling because I found a photo of the Chateau de Thorens which seemed to fit her description. I don't want to use a photo pf the wrong place, so I wonder if you would verify that Thorens is NOT correct. Does the Chateau de Thorence still exist? I appreciate your help with this.

JT

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Terry,

This morning I went down to our Central Reference Library here in Toronto and spent some time with the print source you mentioned: Reports of the Joint War Committee of British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John, 1921. It is a fascinating and very large volume, over 800 pages, detailing every possible aspect of the roles played by the Red Cross, the VAD, and the St, John Ambulance. I found useful information, but was frustrated in that I could not find the reference to the Chateau De Thorence. I must have missed it. I checked the entire section on France and Belgium without success. Is there any chance you have page numbers for the information you kindly gave me? I want to cite the information correctly.

In her memoir, my cousin Victoria mentioned the Hotel "Crystal" in Boulonge and I was puzzled that I could not find any mention of it online. The Red Cross book gave me the correct spelling (Christol), so that is one problem solved.

Online I can find no reference to the Chateau de Thorence at Cannes. It must have vanished or taken on a new identity since the war. Victoria describes it as a place where "many a noble head of England has slept." She goes on to say, "The halls were of beautiful white marble. The staircase, the beautiful library, the spacious drawing rooms – it was an ideal spot for a hospital, especially with its luxurious grounds and walks around the terrace and through the orange groves. How I loved to gather the oranges and lemons there." It sounds like it should have been preserved, but perhaps not.

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