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Helene Geens (Smart)
Place of birth: Malines/Mechelen, Belgium
Death: 1994, Cause not known
Notes: Helene Geens was one of the first Belgian refugees to arrive Prestatyn in October 1914, with her parents, younger brother and two maiden aunts. Her parents and brother returned to Belgium in 1915, but she remained with the two aunts. She settled rapidly into life there, attending Pendre, a private girls’ school, where she seems to have excelled, and joined the Girl Guides. She returned to Belgium after the war. She met and married her English husband in Belgium in 1928; they settled in Leicestershire. Their daughter Diane provided much information and these photographs to The Belgian Refugees in Rhyl website.
rnrnThe Geen family in Prestatyn Helene and her brother Ivon are sitting between their two aunts.
Place of birth: Newport
Service: Wife, widow
Death: 1995-11-03, Cause not known
Notes: May’s husband William Henry Selwood died of shell shock on 1st January 1919. She remained a widow for her remaining 76 years – credited with being the longest WW1 widow in Britain. She is buried in Christchurch Cemetery, Newport.
Grave of May Selwood
Grave of May Selwood who is credited with being the longest WW1 widow in Britain. Christchurch Cemetery, Newport
Place of birth: Cardiff
Service: Rugby player, munitions worker
Death: 2007, Cause not known
Notes: Maria Eley played fullback for Cardiff Ladies Rugby Team during 1917 and 1918, including a match against Newport ladies in Cardiff Arms Park on December 16th 1917, when she was 16 years old. Cardiff lost. Maria died in 2007 aged 106.
Advertisement for Grand Rugby Match 16th December 1917. Western Morning News.
Cardiff Ladies Rugby Team, probably taken 16th December 1917. Maria is sitting middle row left.
Place of birth: Bangor
Service: Nurse, TFNS, 1914 - 1917
Death: After / Ar ôl 1947, Cause not known
Notes: Katherine Conway-Jones, born around 1880, trained at the Leicester Infirmary; this was renamed the 5th Northern General Hospital in 1914 (and subsequently changed back). In 1915 she volunteered for foreign service, initially serving in France and subsequently on hospital ships serving the Dardanelles, Egypt, India, Mesopotamia and German East Africa. She was appointed Matron of HMHS Oxfordshire in April 1916. In the summer of 1917, declared ‘unfit for further service in the tropics, but fit for service in Egypt’, she returned to the UK on the New Zealand hospital ship Maheno, where she also served as Matron. She spent the rest of her time back in Leicester.She was mentioned in despatches three times, and was awarded the Royal Red Cross second class in 1916 for her work in the Dardanelles, and first class in 1917 for bravery during the mining of SS Tyndareus off South Africa. Her medals were sold for £2800 in 2015.rnAfter leaving the TFNS in 1919 she emigrated to Canada to set up a small-holding on Lulu Island, Vancouver, with Julia Hamilton, a Canadian nurse whom she had met in Salonika.A large file of Katherine’s official papers survives in the National Archives.
Sources: National Archives WO 399_10526
Katherine was Matron on this ship, travelling through Suez to India and back to S and E Africa.
Report of Katherine Conway-Jones award of the Royal Red Cross. Y Dydd 22nd June 1917.
Letter from K C-J attempting to claim retrospectively the Mesopotamian Allowance to which nurses working east of Suez were entitled. She was refused, though tried again in 1947.
Letter from K C-J attempting to claim retrospectively the Mesopotamian Allowance to which nurses working east of Suez were entitled. She was refused, though tried again in 1947. (reverse)
Annie Mary Slade (Hall)
Place of birth: Pentre, Rhondda
Service: Munitioms worker, 1916 - 1919
Death: After 2003, Cause not known
Notes: Annie Slade was born in 1903. Her mother was originally from Aberystwyth and her father ‘a bit of a boss’ in the pit. (He died as a result of an injury when Annie was a young teenager). She and her family were lucky to survive a tip slide in 1909. Aged 15 and a half she joined the WAAC in Newport, but her age was discovered (she was on a list to be sent to France) and she and her friend were discharged. At 16 she began working for the National Shell Filling Factory at Rotherwas, Hereford. A long account of her experiences was published in In the Munitions: Women at War in Herefordshire, when she was 100 years old.
Sources: In the Munitions: Women at War in Herefordshire, edited Bill Laws 2003.
Report of the Pentre landslide in which Annie’s family’s house was destroyed. Evening Express 8th February 1909
Place of birth: Llangammarch Wells
Death: August / 1918 / Awst, Llangammarch Wells, Influenza / y ffliw
Notes: Ida Williams was a graduate of University College, Aberystwyth. She taught at intermediate schools in Aberystwyth, Cardiff, Bargoed and finally London, where her health broke down about a year before her death. She seems to have been musical, and to have written for publications including Y Cymro.
Report of the death and funeral of Miss Ida Williams BA. Brecon County Times 8th August 1918.
Alice Helena Alexandra Williams (Alys Meirion)
Place of birth: Castell Deudraeth, Penrhyndeudraeth, Meirioneth
Service: Poet, dramatist, painter, suffragist, organiser, bard, editor.
Death: August / Awst 1957, London, Cause not known
Notes: Alice Williams, born in 1863, was the youngest of 12 children of David Williams, MP for Merioneth. Having to live at home as her mother’s companion she occupied herself in eisteddfodau, amateur dramatics and women’s suffrage. After her mother’s death, when Alice was forty, she divided much of her time between London and Paris, where she met her lifelong companion Fanny Laming. At the outbreak of the war they both worked for the International Red Cross in Geneva, but in 1915 she set up a bureau in Paris (and later London) to seek and disseminate news of persons missing as a result of the war. Later that year she became organising secretary for Wales of the French Wounded Emergency Fund. She was awarded the Médaille de la Reconnaissance Française in 1920. In 1916 she was founder/President of the fourth branch of the Women’s Institute in Wales (at Deudraeth), providing it with the hall which is still in use. She also was the founder editor of Home and Country, the WI magazine. At the 1917 Eisteddfod she was admitted (as a dramatic writer) to the Gorsedd of Bards, taking the bardic name Alys Meirion. Immediately after the war, in 1919, she and Fanny founded the residential Forum Club in London, a popular social space for women only, including Viscountess Rhondda.
Award of Médaille de la Reconnaissance Française
Announcement of award of Médaille de la Reconnaissance Française to Alice Williams. Journal Officiel de la Republique Française 22nd October 1920rnrn
Home and Country magazine
First edition of the WI magazine Home and Country, which was edited by Alice Williams. She is second from the right in the photograph. She also served as the WI Treasurer
Place of birth: Swansea
Service: Nurse, 1914 - December 1915
Death: December / Rhagfyr 1, Great Yarmouth, Enteric fever / Ffliw enterig
Notes: Annie, who was 21 when she died, contracted enteric fever from a sailor patient in the isolation hospital in Great Yarmouth. Her body was brought back to Swansea, and she was buried in Dan y Graig cemetery, Swansea.
Newspaper article and photograph
Report of the death of Annie Roach, Herlad of Wales 8th January 1916.
Helena Susanna Adam
Place of birth: Belgium
Death: December 1916, School House, Pantycaws, Carbon monoxide poisoning / Gwenwyno gan garbon monocsid
Notes: Helena Adam was a 51 year-old Belgian refugee living with her family near Carmarthen. They arrived from Ostend in November 1914. Her death was caused by fumes from a fire warming their bedroom. The fire was made partly of culm, coal dust mixed with clay and other materials, which was much used at this time owing to the high price of coal. Helena’s husband Jacobus was also affected but later recovered.
Another report on the inquest on Helena Susanna Adam. South Wales Weekly Post 11th December 1915.
Place of birth: Pontardulais
Service: Nurse, 1916 - 1919
Death: February 1919 , Kemptown hospital, Brighton, Bronchitis following influenza / Broncitis yn dilyn ffliw
Notes: Ezzelina was one of eight children of Thomas Samuel, superintendent of the Clayton Tin Plate Works, Pontardulais. She was sitting her final exams after three year’s training as a nurse in Brighton when she fell ill and died, aged 24.
Newspaper article and phoograph
Short article noting Ezzelina’s death, with a photograph. Herald of Wales 1st March 1919rnrn
Report of the death of Ezzelina Samuel in Brighton. Carmarthen Journal 7th March 1919rnrn