Monday, November 16, 2009

Jessie Ritchie - WW1 QAIMNS


Jessie Ritchie

Cargill, Blairgowrie, Perthshire, Scotland.
Sister of James Ritchie of The Neuk, Rosemount Blairgowrie, Pertshire, Scotland.

Trained at the Royal infirmary Dundee Scotland.

later worked for the Nurses Co-operative in London based at Cavendish Square.

Served in the Boer War and was the Matron at the Orange River (concentration) Refugee Camp 1902.

Meet General Smuts on 2nd June 1902.

Joined the British Expeditionary Forces in France during the first days of World War One as a Staff Nurse in the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service, transfered to Egypt and later to the Salonika front in Greece.

Died of dysentery 13th August 1916

Buried: Salonika Lembet Road Cemetery
The Cemetery is on the northern outskirts of Thessalonika, Greece

Commemorated on Wolfill Village Hall, Perthshire Memorial


Dundee Staff Nurse: AGNES GREIG MANN QAIMNS aged 25, drowned as a result of the German U boat mining of the H.M.H.S. "Salta." 10th April 1917 buried Ste. Marie Cemetery, Le Havre;

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mary Rodwell - Suffragette and WW1 Nursing Heroine

Suffragette and WW1
Nursing Heroine

Miss Mary Rodwell (Brockdish, Norfolk) was a member Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (Q.A.I.M.N.S.R.). She was killed on the night of 17th November 1915 when the Hospital Ship Anglia was returning from Calais to Dover with 390 injured soldiers, 56 crew members and a compliment doctors and nurses during World War 1.

The nursing
complement included Matron, Mrs. Mitchell, Nurse Walton, Nurse Meldrum, and Nurse Mary Rodwell, At around 12:30 pm, in pitch darkness and one mile East of Folkestone Gate, the Hospital Ship "Anglia" hit a mine laid by a German U boat, within 15 minutes the ship had sunk. Claiming the lives of over one hundred soldiers, crewmen and also the life of nursing sister Mary Rodwell.

According to the Nursing Times 27th
November 1915, "The horror of that first moment have been indescribable when the doomed vessel plunged her bows into the water at an angle which suggested her instant death, and the staff were faced with the problem of getting nearly 200 cot cases up from wards and lower wards in almost impossible conditions. "

The water at once rushed into the lowest wards, and the orderlies who went to investigate reported that it was up over their heads. From the other wards every man who could move himself scrambled as best he could to the deck, and some of the wounded, officers and men alike, did all in their power to save the others, hunting out lifeboats for them and fastening on
All the time the nurses were working steadily, chiefly concerned with the lifebelts, but bringing up all the wounded who could be moved along those slanting corridors."

Some of the men reported sister Rodwell had been injured in the initial explosion. The Matron and sister on deck when urged to get into a boat, which had come alongside, would not hear of it. saying "we have the right to be last this time"
"I offered to help one nurse you come with me and I'll get you to safety. i am a very strong swimmer. You'll be safe with me. But she shook her head an said she could not leave her men. So she was with them to the last ".

Between 127 and 164 were killed in the sinking of the Hospital ship Anglia, The survivors described sights which were worse than anything they had seen at in Flanders.

The Army Orders in relation to the tragic sinking of the hospital ship Anglia contained the following Statement:

"The Army Council desire to place on record their appreciation of the presence of mind and devotion to duty shown by the Royal Army Medical Corps personnel on the occasion of the sinking of the hospital ship Anglia which struck a mine on November 17th 1915.

"Through the courage and presence of mind of the Matron Mrs Mitchell, and devotion of the nursing sisters, most of the cot cases were evacuated, from the ship. in this work, lieutenants P.L.T. Bennet and H.W. Hodgson Royal Medical Corps, were conspicuous and aided by Private Darwen and McGuire of the same corps, they succeeded in saving wounded from the lower wards when they were awash and almost submerged Mary Rodwell friends testified that "she was well aware of the risks she ran in serving the sick and wounded on a hospital ship.

The Matron and sister rescued from Anglia say that they cannot speak too highly of her (Nurse Mary Rodwell). The last the Matron (Mrs Mitchell) saw of her was shortly before the explosion, when she came up to fetch some warm woollies for her patients When war broke out she felt it her duty to volunteer for foreign service, and was from February till may 1915 on hospital trains, and on the Anglia since May.

Mary Rodwell prophetically wrote a letter dated 8th September 1915

The large hospital ships have gone to the Dardanelles leaving us only the small ones for France. I saw the XXXXX she takes 3,000 patients and is enormous. I prefer a smaller boat myself, in case anything should go wrong. and just now the German mines are a great many over here. we have also seen (German) submarines at times. ......"So far we have been lucky with the hospital ships. We had a narrow escape with bombs a few weeks ago. The explosion threw us out of our bunks .... The high explosive bomb was only forty yards from us, and several fire bombs only 10 yards from us burnt themselves out on the pier without doing any damage, as they were on a stone pier, but the noise of the explosive bombs was terrific. We just rocked and dashed, the boast listing very much, but recovering itself without any damage done except lights and telephone broke, but a trawler near had some men killed and injured"

Hospital ships regularly had no escort and on one trip the ship's passengers even included the King, who's entourage suffered from sea sickness and who Mary Rodwell nursed.

The wreck of the hospital ship Anglia is now an Official War Grave, which lies on a sandy bed, where she was struck on that tragic night.
A number of those killed are recorded on the war Memorial at Hollybrook Memorial, Southampton including Mary Rodwell.

Mary Rodwell was born at Brockdish, Norfolk (near Diss) on June 7th, 1874 the daughter of Mr J. Rodwell, she later lived in the village of Oakley on the Norfolk/Suffolk border.

She trained at Hendon Infirmary Hospital in North West London from 1901 to 1904. Later nurse Rodwell worked at Samaritan Free Hospital, Maryleboune Road, London and later still in private nursing homes in the Capital.

When war broke out she felt it her duty to volunteer for foreign service, and was from February till may 1915 on hospital trains, and on the Anglia from May 1915. It was reported in the British Nursing Journal that she was a supporter of their magazine (as opposed to the (Royal) College Nursing of Nursing Journal the Nursing Times) and that she was supporter of a nursing regulatory body which the (Royal) College of Nursing then opposed. 

Mary Rodwell  would have undoubtedly therefore have supported the development of nursing trade unionism as outlined by Maude MacCallum's Professional Union of Trained Nurses Nursing Union established in 1919. Miss Elma Smith Matron at Hendon Infirmary stated"She herself could wish for no better end than to die with the patients under her care".

Mary Rodwell was also recorded as being an enthusiastic suffragist being an member "ardent" supporter of the Crystal Palace and Anerley Women's Freedom League (WFL). She seems to have become involved in the local branch while living with her uncle Robert Eagle in Upper Norwood, South London (22 Palace Road). 

After her tragic death the The Crystal Palace & Anerley Women's Freedom League stated that Mary Rodwell's "name will be held in honour and reverence"

The WFL was a "progressive" more working class women orientated breakaway group from the WSPU established by Charlotte Despard, Edith How-Martyn and Teresa Billington-Grieg on 22nd October 1907. The WFL objected to the lack of democracy in the WSPU, it's deferance to wealthy women rather than tackle the issues facing working women's, they also opposed the WSPU's vandalism and particular it's arson campaigns.

The WFL while willing to break the law in furtherance of "Votes for Women" through direct action, Muriel Matters a WFL famously sailed over London in a hot air balloon showering London with "Votes for women" leaflets, The WFL was completely non-violent (over 100 of its members went to jail for direct action demonstrations and refusing to pay taxes and ) 

The colours of the Women's Freedom League (WFL) were Green, Gold and White.

Mary Rodwells name appears at the church in Ditchingham, Norfolk.

On 2nd July 1920 a memorial bronze plaque was unveiled at Colindale hospital, it was stated that the memorial would remind nurses "who come after, of their courage self abnegation and devotion to duty when the hour of trial came".



BJN British Journal of Nursing  11 December 1915 (and others)

Nursing Times 27 November 1915

See also Jerry Green's excellent article re the Crystal Palace connections and family reasearch

Mureil Matters of the Womens Freedom League also organised  the WFL van tour starting in mid October in Oxshott, Surrey and touring Surrey, Kent, Sussex and East Anglia

Tragically, another Hendon nurse sister Julia Winchester returning to her post on the Gold Coast was also drowned on the "Falaba" which was torpedoed 28th March 1915 by a German U boat.

Julia Winchester's body was afterwards recovered from the sea and buried in the churchyard at St Agnes, Cornwall. 

Robert Eagle was a noted supporter of Crystal Palace Football Club

Friday, November 13, 2009

WW1 National Asylum Workers Union

National Asylum Workers Union

Private Fred Cartmell; 8th Battalion King's Own Royal Lanacter Regiment, Rainhill Asylum staff and union member

He was invalided home early in from wounds received in September 1917 returned to the front and was killed in action 26/09/1917 aged 27. Husband of Emma Cartmell 25 New Road, Rainhill, Lancashire, Tyne Cot Cemetery.

Private Frederick Curtis; 1st battalion Welsh Guards active union member at Maidstone Mental Hospital, killed in France July 31st 1917 aged 32. Duhallow Cemetery. Son of Elizabeth Waterman, Edinburgh Villa, Barming Heath, Maidstone.

Sergeant Oliver; 2nd North Midlands Royal Garrison Artillery. died in hospital in France aged 32 on 27/08/1917 mentioned in dispatches, Dozinghem cemetery . He was a reservist at outbreak of the War an an attendant at Wakefield Asylum and a member of the local union branch. Husband 12 Denstone Street, Mount Pleasant, Wakefield. Son of Louis Kossuth Batty.

Private H. Wilson; (Charles Henry Wilson) 8th East Surrey Regiment was killed in action at Messines Ridge near Ypres on July 23rd 1917, buried at Ypres Menin Gate, union member at Napsbury Hospital

Thursday, November 05, 2009

First Hospital Ship 1862

The first hospital ship used during war time, came into service during the American Civil War.

The USS Mound City had captured the "Red Rover" from the Confederates on 7 April 1862 and the ship was later turned into a hospital ship, USS Red Rover on the Mississippi.

The ships medical crew included a complement of Catholic Sisters of the Holy Cross nurses and a section Afro-American nurses.

Renamed the hospital ship "Red Rover" she was placed in service of the U.S. Army's Western Gunboat Flotilla in June 1862. Hospital Ship "Red Rover" served on the Mississippi in this role through the summer of 1862,

We know the names of at least four nurses -
Alice Kennedy, Sarah Kinno, Ellen Campbell and Betsy Young.

The nursing staff aboard the "Red Rover" represented the first US Navy nurses and some of the first recognised Afro American nurses

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Henrietta Mellett and Canadian Nurses WW1

Henrietta Mellett

Irish-Canadian Nurse

By Marc Leroux

Sometimes fate gives us a chance to do things that we might otherwise miss.

A couple of weeks ago I was updating the cause of death for all the Nursing Sisters in the Canadian Great war Project. When I got to Henrietta Mellett, I noticed that the Cause of Death in Ed Wigneys Roll of Honour was listed as “Drowning”.

Henrietta Mellett was born in Galway, Ireland October 21, 1883, and enlisted into the Canadian Army Medical Corps (No 15 General Hospital) at London, Ontario on 22nd January 1918 . She appears on the 1911 Census, so she immigrated to Canada sometime prior to 1911.

As with any attempt to reconstruct events from over 90 years ago, there is some degree of speculation, but it is likely that her family had moved from Galway to Dublin and was living there in 1918. It is likely that Henrietta Mellett was returning to England on 10 October 1918 after visiting them. She was aboard the mailboat R.M.S. Leinster, with a crew of 77 and 694 passengers, bound for Holyhead, Wales when it was attacked and sunk by the German submarine UB-123 just before 10:00 AM. The Leinster went down about 6 km outside of Dublin Bay. The official loss of life was 501 personnel, and it was possibly higher.

Fate came in to play when I saw that her body had been recovered and she was buried in Dublin. My wife and I were planning an Irish vacation, so last Tuesday, 3 weeks after looking up her cause of death, on a drizzly morning, I found myself in Mt. Jerome Cemetery in Dublin. I located her grave, as well as the grave of Private Fryday, the only other Canadian buried there. Nursing Sister Mellette is buried with her brother and sister, with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission marker atop the grave.

It is very satisfying to be able to be fortunate enough to have found that she was buried there, and to be able to make the trip to the Cemetery to honour her memory.

Canadian Nurses WW1

By Michael Walker

Canadian Nurses who died WW1

46 of the 3,000 women who served as "nursing sisters" in the Canadian Army Medical Corps lost their lives during the war. Of info available, six were killed or mortally wounded (of which three died in the deliberate bombing of the military hospital in √Čtaples, France);

15 died at sea, with the sinking of the hospital ship, Llandovery Castle; 15 died of disease; and seven died later in Canada


Short, simple and deeply impressive was the ceremony, says The Canadian Nurse, which took place in the wide corridor just outside the Legislative Chamber of the Parliament Buildings, Toronto, when the memorial tablet to the memory of the nurses of the Ontario Military Hospital, Orpington, Kent, England, who gave their lives during the war, was unveiled by Major Margaret C. MacDonald, R.R.C. Matron-in-Chief of the Canadian overseas military forces

Family and many persons of note attended the ceremony. Present for the occasion were the near relatives of the heroines whose names appear on the tablet :

Nursing Sister Mary McKenzie,
formerly of Toronto, who was drowned in the sinking by the enemy of the hospital ship Llandovery Castle;

Nursing Sister S. E. Garbutt,
who went overseas for service in June, 1917(?), and died of cancer the following (20th August 1917);

Nursing Sister M. Lowe,
Of Binscarth, Manitoba, who was killed during the bombing outrages at Etaples in May, 1918 ; (28th May 1918)

Nursing Sister D. H. Baldwin,
who died as a result of wounds received during the enemy raids at. Doulens, France, in May, 1918 ; (30th May 1918)

Nursing Sister M. E. Greene,
who died of double pneumonia, at No. 24 British General Hospital, Etaples, France, in October, 1918. (9th October 1918)

Hon. Dr. H. J. Cody, former Minister of Education, read the memorial service and dedicated the tablet, erected by the matron and nursing sisters of the Orpington (Canadian) Hospital unit.


Alpaugh. A
Baker. M. E
Baker. M. E
. G. E.
. C.
. E.
Cumming. I.
Dagg. A. St. C.
Donaldson. G.
. C. J.
Dussault. A.
Follette. M. A.
Forneri. A. F.
Fortescue. M. J.
Fraser. M. M.
Frederickson. C.
Gallaher. M. K.
Grant.G. M.
Herman .V. B.
Henshaw. I.
Hunt. M.
Jaggard. J. B.
Jarvis. J.
Jenner. L. M.
Kealy. I. L.
King. J. N.
MacIntosh. R.
MacLeod. M.
McDiarmid .J. M.
McDougall .A.
McEachen. R.
McGinnis. M. G.
McKay. E. V.
McKenzie. M. A.
. R. M.
Mellett. H.
Munro. M. F. E
Roberts. J.
Rogers. N. G.
Ross. A. J.
Ross E. G.
Sampson. M. B.
Sare. G. I.
Sparks. E.
Stamers. A. I.
Templeman. J.
Trusdale. A.
Tupper. A. A.


Baldwin. G (30 May 1918) wounds
. L.A (21 February 1918) K/N
Garbutt S. E (20 August 1917) K/N
Green. M (9 October 1918) Disease
Lowe. M (28 May 1918) wounds
MacDonald. K.M. (19 May 1918) wounds
MacPherson. A (30 May 1918) wounds
Pringle. E.L (30 May 1918) wounds
Wake. Gladys M.M (21 May 1918) wounds

Whitely. A (21 April 1918) wounds


At the end of the month of June 1918, the "LLANDOVERY CASTLE" was on her way back to England from Halifax. She has on board the crew, consisting of one hundred and sixty-four men, eighty officers and men of the Canadian Medical Corps, and fourteen nurses, a total of two hundred and fifty-eight persons. There were no combatants on board. The vessel had not taken on board any munitions or other war material. This has been clearly established.

In the evening of 27th of June, 1918, at about nine-thirty (local time) the "LLANDOVERY CASTLE" was sunk in the Atlantic Ocean, about one hundred and sixteen miles south-west of Fastnet (Ireland), by a torpedo from the German U-boat 86. Of those aboard only twenty-four persons were saved, two hundred and thirty-four having been drowned.

For a superb account of nurses in WW1 read "It's a long way to Tipperary " (British & Irish nurses in the Great War) by Yvonne McEwen

Michael Walker

UNISON The Nursing Union - London