Cymraeg

The Experiences of Women in World War One

A collection of information, experiences and photographs recorded by Women's Archive of Wales in 2014-18

A collection of information, experiences and photographs recorded by Women's Archive of Wales in 2014-18

Browse the collection


Sorted by name

Sarah Anne Sybil Lucille Seabourne (Hinton)

Place of birth: Abergavenny

Service: Munitions worker

Notes: Born 1898, Sybil was a munitions worker though it has not been possible to establish where she worked. She married Clifford Hinton in 1920, and died in 1972.

Reference: WaW0132

Sybil Seabourne with fellow munitions workers. She is third from the left, wearing an armband. Perhaps she was the group forewoman.

Sybil Seabourne

Sybil Seabourne with fellow munitions workers. She is third from the left, wearing an armband. Perhaps she was the group forewoman.


May Selwood

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.

Reference: WaW0106

Grave of May Selwood who is credited with being the longest WW1 widow in Britain. 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

Death Notice of William Henry Selwood, died 1st January 1919

Death Notice of William Henry Selwood

Death Notice of William Henry Selwood, died 1st January 1919


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.

Reference: WaW0285

Annie Hall née Slade in old age.

Annie Hall née Slade.

Annie Hall née Slade in old age.

Report of the Pentre landslide in which Annie’s family’s house was destroyed. Evening Express 8th February 1909

Newspaper report

Report of the Pentre landslide in which Annie’s family’s house was destroyed. Evening Express 8th February 1909


Mary Ellen Small

Place of birth: Abercreg[g]an

Service: Waitress, Womens Legion

Notes: Mary Ellen Small gave birth to a baby boy in April 1918. The father William Speake, who denied paternity, was a corporal in the Welsh Regiment, and formerly a collier from Trealaw. They met while he was training at Kinmel Camp at Boddelwyddan, where she worked as a waitress. He was ordered to pay 5 shillings a week until the boy was 14.

Reference: WaW0341

Report of the case of Small v Speake. Cambria Daily Leader 25th June 1918rnrn

Newspaper report

Report of the case of Small v Speake. Cambria Daily Leader 25th June 1918rnrn


Helen Smith (Thomas)

Place of birth: Swansea

Service: Child

Death: 1993, Swansea, Cause not known

Notes: Helen Smith, born 1908, was the daughter of Alfred and Elizabeth Smith of Swansea who emigrated to America when Helen was a few months old. In 1915 they decided to return to Swansea, and sailed on the Lusitania. When the ship was torpedoed on 7th May 1915 Helen had become separated from her parents and baby brother Hubert. They died, but she was rescued by a Canadian journalist, Ernest Cowper. She was reunited with her aunt Cecelia Owens, another passenger who had lost her two sons in the sinking. She later married John Henry Thomas and lived the rest of her life in Swansea.

Sources: http://www.rmslusitania.info/people/second-cabin/helen-smith/

Reference: WaW0227

Helen Smith with her rescuer Ernest Cowper. Photograph taken in Queenstown, County Cork, Ireland. Helen is wearing new clothes donated by local well-wishers.

Helen Smith

Helen Smith with her rescuer Ernest Cowper. Photograph taken in Queenstown, County Cork, Ireland. Helen is wearing new clothes donated by local well-wishers.

Report of the story of Lusitania survivor Helen Smith (1). Cambrian Daily Leader 10 May 1915

Newspaper report (1)

Report of the story of Lusitania survivor Helen Smith (1). Cambrian Daily Leader 10 May 1915


Report of the story of Lusitania survivor Helen Smith (2). Cambrian Daily Leader 10 May 1915

Newspaper report (2)

Report of the story of Lusitania survivor Helen Smith (2). Cambrian Daily Leader 10 May 1915

Report of the story of Lusitania survivor Helen Smith (3). Cambrian Daily Leader 10 May 1915

Newspaper report (3)

Report of the story of Lusitania survivor Helen Smith (3). Cambrian Daily Leader 10 May 1915


Mary E Smith

Place of birth: Dolgellau

Service: Forewoman, QMAAC

Death: 1918-08-21, Dolgellau, Sickness / Salwch

Memorial: War memorial, Dolgellau, Merionethshire

Notes: aged 42. Buried St Mary's Dolgellau.

Sources: http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Merionethshire/Meirionnydd/Dolgellau.html\r\nhttp://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/671636/SMITH,%20MARY%20ELIZABETH

Reference: WaW0056

Name of Mary E Smith, Park Lane, on Dolgellau War Memorial

Dolgellau Way Memorial

Name of Mary E Smith, Park Lane, on Dolgellau War Memorial


Gladys May Snell

Place of birth: Cadoxton, Barry

Notes: Gladys Snell was arrested on 7th May 1919 for the infanticide of her illegitimate 21 month-old son Ieuan Ralph. He had been drowned. She was sent for trial from the magistrates’ court to the Assize Court in Swansea. The jury there could not agree, and she then appeared at the November Assizes, where Gladys, then 19, was found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder. She was sentenced to nine months imprisonment. A number of well-wishers across S Wales, including the Boy Scouts, contributed to a fund to pay for her defence. The full story appears on the front page of the Cambrian Daily News, 25th July 1919.

Reference: WaW0364

Report of the arrest of Gladys May Snell for infanticide. Barry Dock News 9th May 1919.

Newspaper report

Report of the arrest of Gladys May Snell for infanticide. Barry Dock News 9th May 1919.

Letter appealing for defence funds for Gladys Snell. Barry Dock News 16th May 1919.

Newspaper letter

Letter appealing for defence funds for Gladys Snell. Barry Dock News 16th May 1919.


Donations to Gladys May Snell defence fund, Barry Dock News 27th June.

Defence fund accounts

Donations to Gladys May Snell defence fund, Barry Dock News 27th June.

Report of jury’s failure to agree a verdict. Cambria Daily Leader26th July 1919.

Newspaper report

Report of jury’s failure to agree a verdict. Cambria Daily Leader26th July 1919.


Newspaper report of jury’s verdict of manslaughter. Barry Dock News 7th November 1919.

Newspaper report

Newspaper report of jury’s verdict of manslaughter. Barry Dock News 7th November 1919.


Enid Spedding

Place of birth: Goginan

Service: Clerk ?, WAAC, 1917 -

Notes: Enid seems to have joined the WAAC in Autumn 1917.

Reference: WaW0310

Newspaper photograph of Enid Spedding, WAAC. Cambrian News 3rd May 1918.

Newspaper photograph and report

Newspaper photograph of Enid Spedding, WAAC. Cambrian News 3rd May 1918.


Daisy Colnett Spickett

Place of birth: Pontypridd

Service: Nurse, VAD

Notes: Daisy, a lawyer’s daughter, joined the VAD when it was formed in 1910. She served in hospitals in Wales and England, and on hospital ships. Follow the link for a very interesting interview with Daisy recorded 1974 (IWM). There are 8 reels of tape amounting to about 2 hours of recording.

Sources: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80000510

Reference: WaW0128

Red Cross record card for Daisy Spickett (reverse)

Red Cross record card

Red Cross record card for Daisy Spickett (reverse)

Red Cross card for Daisy Spickett

Red Cross record card

Red Cross card for Daisy Spickett


Daisy Spickett in VAD uniform.

Daisy Spickett VAD

Daisy Spickett in VAD uniform.


Jane Charlotte Stapleton Cotton (née Methuen)

Service: WI President

Notes: Jane Stapleton was the wife of Col Richard Stapleton Cotton, a land-owner and keen promoter of agricultural and social improvements. He introduced the idea of forming a Women’s Institute in Llanfairpwll, Anglesey, after meeting the Canadian Mrs Margaret Watt, who was involved in early Women’s Institutes in Canada. The first institute opened in June 1915, with Jane Stapleton as President. The programme was very much dictated by Col Stapleton Cotton; he and his dog Tinker remain the only two males to have been full WI members.

Sources: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01sdvv0; www.afwi.org.uk/the-first-wi-in-britain.html

Reference: WaW0241

Mrs Stapleton 1st President of Llanfairpwll Women’s Institute

Mrs Jane Stapleton Cotton

Mrs Stapleton 1st President of Llanfairpwll Women’s Institute

Col Stapleton Cotton and his dog Tinker were the only males ever to be full members of the Women’s Institute.

Col Stapleton Cotton and his dog Tinker

Col Stapleton Cotton and his dog Tinker were the only males ever to be full members of the Women’s Institute.


Report of Llanfairpwll WI’s first Annual Meeting. North Wales Chronicle 22nd Sept 1916

Newspaper report

Report of Llanfairpwll WI’s first Annual Meeting. North Wales Chronicle 22nd Sept 1916



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