Every Wench is walking in memory of a particular Nurse or VAD. Some are for personal reasons some are just to honour an otherwise forgotten person. Whatever the reason we all have the utmost respect and admiration for every Nurse and VAD that gave their time during the War. We are focusing on WW1 for this walk but our respect and admirations extends to every single Nurse and VAD in every conflict right up to the present day.
Here some of our walkers give a small insight into what is motivating them for this years walk. We hope that you will help us to honour these women too by donating today.
Sue Robinson founded Wenches in Trenches in 2007, with the sole aim to raise funds for UK military and medical causes and honour the memories of nursing staff and medics who served alongside our troops in all conflicts, past and present.
“The centenary of WW1 is a humbling reminder to all of us how lucky we really are that so many men and women laid down their lives for the future safety of Great Britain,” says Sue. “They can never be forgotten.”
Sue hails from a family of nurses and soldiers, and her grandmother Isabella Robinson served as a nurse in both the Great War and WW2. As a young woman she would listen intently to her detailed first-hand accounts of just how challenging life was on the front line for the nurses and medics who tended to Britain’s wounded heroes. Based in West Cornwall, Sue has a degree in Modern European history and has undertaken in depth research into the VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) and nurses of the Great War. She has a background of working for national charities including the Army Benevolent Fund, and realising her grandmother’s stories were as equally as inspiring and valid to Britain’s history, Sue was inspired to raise awareness of the ‘forgotten’ heroes.
Sue McGill is a retired teacher living in Mousehole, Cornwall. Sue’s grandfather was killed in action in WW1. Her grandmother was pregnant with her mother when he went away, and he died without seeing her born.
“There were so many husbands, fathers and sons who laid down their lives for us,” says Sue. “Doing this walk means so much to me. My grandfather didn’t make it home. The scores of nurses and VADs who were brave enough to join the war effort and care for the injured made sure many more boys did actually make it home safely to their families. Our Wenches “Brigadier” Sue Robinson has asked me to read the Exhortation at the Menin Gate during the Roses of No Man’s Land walk in September, and I shall do so with pride and honour.”
For Suzanna Green, being involved in the Wenches “Rose of No Man’s Land” campaign will be a poignant journey. Suzanna’s husband Simon is an army veteran who served with the Royal Green Jackets and Royal Logistic Corps, completing tours of duty in Bosnia and Northern Ireland. Simon lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Suzanna runs a support group in Durham for wives, partners and families of veterans with PTSD. She is also a committee member for her local Armed Forces Community Covenant and manages an information website for veterans and their families. As if that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she is also a trustee of Wenches In Trenches. Coming from a military family this is a cause close to her heart.
“My father and most of my male relatives served in the British Army,” says Suzanna, “and as the wife of a veteran affected by war, the 100 year anniversary of the start of WW1 is is a humbling reminder to all of us how lucky we really are that so many men and women laid down their lives – and still do – for the future safety of Great Britain,” says Suzanna, “We all have a duty to honour them.”
Suzanna will be walking in memory of Annie Cecilia Walton-Wilson, who was the commandant of Shotley House in Shotley Bridge, County Durham during the Great War. Shotley was the 16th Durham VA Hospital, and is now a private residence. Annie was awarded the Royal Red Cross 2nd Class for her service.
“I chose to walk in Annie’s memory as Shotley Bridge is the next village from where I grew up as a child,” said Suzanna. “I have not been able to find out very much more about her, but that hit home to me how many unforgotten heroes of the Great War there are, and through Wenches In Trenches I feel I can give back to them.”
Sue is a Queens Nurse (Queens Nursing Institute) and Community Dementia Nurse based in Stroud, Gloucestershire.
“In 1916 The Queen’s Nurse Magazine reported that there were 500 nurses on active service,” says Sue. “Anyone who chooses nursing as a profession makes a personal and informed choice to do so. However during the Great War, many volunteers were dispatched as medics and nurses to the front line to care for the husbands, fathers and sons who were fighting for their country. These brave men and women would have had no idea of what lay before them. Many volunteers lost their lives alongside the soldiers. All deserve to be remembered and honoured.
I am undertaking the Roses Of No Man’s Land walk in memory of a nurse named Kathleen Bolger, staff nurse in the QAIMNS who died on 5th pneumonia, aged just 30.”
Genevra lives in Ypres, France and organises tours of battlefields from WW1 and WW2. Her Great Grandfather fought from 1914 and came out of the army in 1919. Her Grandfather was in the RAF in WW2 and flew Spitfires and then Typhoons over Normandy.
“The public today pay their respects to the men who fought, died and survived the Great War which is as it should be, however we should always give our thoughts and respect to those that supported them in many ways,” says Genevra. “There were many others… volunteers and nurses – women – who would have been subjected to the sights of wounded and the sounds of many in pain, some losing their own lives in their daily role. We should never forget this. I am doing the walk to remember the many nurses that served. Some survived, some did not. For those who returned home, the Great War served as a watershed for developing their own political and economic rights.
I am walking in the memory of Miss Eva Cicely Fox, who was from Crowthorne, Berkshire, and a Matron of Q.A.I.M.N.S (Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service). Eva was mentioned in Despatches, 30th November 1915, for gallant and distinguished services in the Field, serving on the Western Front and Mesopotamia, eventually retiring in 1928 with recommended retention of her badge.”
A nurse’s quote: “My dear man was dying. At the exact moment that he took his first breath in Heaven at 7.30pm the Band was playing ‘There will be such wonderful things to do’ – that particularly plaintive little tune. His only attempt at a complaint was to say once when I said good- night to him, “I wish you were going to stay with me all night.”
A former Combat Medic, wife to an ex-Royal Engineer, and mother to a 16 year old son poised to join the Army, Beverley Gall knows only too well of the sacrifices made by those who volunteer to fight for their country. “My husband Antony and I are actively involved with our local branch of the Royal British Legion in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire” says Beverley. “We live in a beautiful part of England, and 100 years ago so many brave men and women, including young men from our village, made the ultimate sacrifice – laying down their lives for their fellow countrymen.”
“The Roses of No Man’s Land walk is going to be really, really special, not just because of the centenary but because of what we do – a great bunch of women from all walks of life, cherishing the memory and work and dedication of nurses, VADs and other medical staff. This is particularly special to me as I was a Combat Medic with 257 General Hospital (TA) and my regiment was QARANC – Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Corps. I will be wearing a replica Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) uniform.”
Beverley will be walking in memory of Maud McCarthy, in Beverley’s view: “A legend of a woman!” The following account of Maud has been taken from Wikipedia:-
Describing the matron-in-chief during the war, one general said: “She’s perfectly splendid, she’s wonderful … she’s a soldier!… If she was made Quartermaster-General, she’d work it, she’d run the whole Army, and she’d never get flustered, never make a mistake. The woman’s a genius.” A contributor to the Sydney Morning Herald in 1914 referred to her as a “slight, delicately-organised woman” with “an absolutely wonderful gift for concentrated work, and a power of organisation that has made her invaluable in army hospital work”. She was matron-in-chief of the Territorial Army Nursing Service from 1920 until her retirement in 1925.
Originally from London, Justine now lives in Newlyn, Cornwall, and is a Nurse Practitioner at a GP practice in St Ives.
“The bravery and sacrifices of all those who did their bit for our country during the Great War – soldiers, nurses and volunteers – including my grandfather, who was a stretcher bearer – will never be forgotten,” says Justine. “Through Wenches In Trenches I have been able to visit Delville Wood where my grandfather served. It was the closest I have ever felt to him and so, particularly as a nurse, it will be a great privilege to do the Roses Of No Man’s Land walk this year. Although he died before I was born, I will be carrying my grandfather with me.”