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Place of birth: Builth Wells
Service: Waitress then Cook, WAAC, 1918/05/O7– 1918/08/05/
Notes: Alice, aged 23, served first as a waitress, then as a cook during her brief career in WAAC/QMAAC. She was discharged on medical grounds.
Edith Mary Tonkin
Place of birth: Sandford Devon
Service: Ward maid, VAD, 1917/11/06 – 1918/10/13
Death: 1918-10-13, 3rd General Hospital Le Treport, Pneumonia / Niwmonia
Memorial: War memorial, Llandaff, Glamorgan
Notes: Edith was born on a farm in Devonshire in 1892. She moved to Cardiff when her father inherited a pub from his uncle. She worked as a ward maid at the 3rd General hospital in Tréport, France, where she died aged 26. Her name appears on Llandaff war memorial with that of her younger brother William John (Jack), who died at the battle of Loos in 1915.
Headstone commemorating Edith Mary Tonkin, Mount Huon Military Cemetery Normandy. Courtesy Peter Bennett Dewberry Yorkshire
Photograph of the Tonkin family on the family farm in Devon, c 1910. Courtesy Maureen Roberts, Western Australiarn
Mary Elizabeth Lewis
Place of birth: Abergavenny
Service: Ward maid, VAD
Death: 1923/04/06, Abergavenny, Cause not known
Notes: Mary Elizabeth Lewis joined the VAD aged 19 in 1918. She served as a ward maid in France, in the Australian hospital in Sutton Verney, and then again in France for 6 months, being discharged in January 1920. She died three years later. Her gravestone in Abergavenny cemetery bears the badge of the British Red Cross Society.
Gravestone of Mary Elizabeth Lewis, showing the badge of the British Red Cross and the inscription ‘She served for two years in France during the Great War as a British Red Cross Nurse’. Thanks to Marian Senior and ALHS.
Place of birth: Denbighshire ?
Service: washerwoman, 1918 - 1919
Notes: Despite not being a member of the Red Cross, Elizabeth Roberts worked one day for free, as well as 3 or 4 paid, doing the washing for the auxiliary 36 bed Red Cross hospital in Chirk. ‘The work was very heavy’.
Place of birth: Denbighshire ?
Notes: A Red Cross card records that Elizabeth worked for 11 months as a washerwoman at Brynkinalt Auxiliary Hospital, Chirk for 4 to 5 days a week, one of them unpaid. Her husband was a collier away on active service. The Commandant remarked ‘The work was very heavy, and she was most ungrudging in giving extra time, and did the work admirably’. She was not a member of the British Red Cross.
Marie De Saedeleer
Place of birth: Sint-Martens-Latem, Belgium
Notes: Marie was the eldest of five daughters of the Belgian artist Valerius de Saedeleer. He was among a group of artists encouraged by Gwendoline and Margaret Davies [qv] to come to Wales as refugees in 1914. The family settled in Aberystwyth, with strong ties to University College, Aberystwyth. Marie, like her sister Elisabeth, [qv] became interested in weaving. They both taught in the newly formed Arts and Crafts department of the college, together with their father. On her return to Belgium in 1921 Marie worked with her sister Elisabeth at the Arts Centre they set up in Etikhove, Belgium.
Marie de Saedeleer and her sisters
Marie is one of the two girls standing at the front by their loom. Elisabeth is at the back.
Edith Picton Turbervill
Place of birth: Fownhope, Herefordshire
Service: Welfare worker, MP, Y W C A
Death: 1960, Cause not known
Notes: Edith (born 1872) was a twin [qv Beatrice Picton-Warlow], one of many children of John Picton Turbervill who inherited Ewenny Priory, Glamorgan in 1891. Always very devout, she worked with the families of navvies working on the Vale of Glamorgan railway and poor families in London After six years in India she returned to Britain to be foreign secretary of the Y.W.C.A. When war broke out, she raised quarter of a million pounds to build Y.W.C.A. hostels for young women munitions and farm workers. A strong supporter of ordination of women, she preached in several non-conformist chapels in Wales before becoming the first woman to preach in an Anglican church, in 1919, wearing ‘cassock and surplice’. As she was over six foot tall, with ‘a rather loud voice’, she impressed the newspapers. In that year too she joined the Labour party. After two unsuccessful attempts, she was elected MP for Wrekin in Shropshire in 1929. During her brief Parliamentary career she successfully introduced the bill to stop the execution of pregnant women.
Sources: Angela V John: Rocking the Boat, Parthian Press 2018
Report of the inaugural meeting launching the provision of Y.M.C.A. hostels for munitions workers in Wales (part 1). Glamorgan Gazette 13 October 1916.
Report of the inaugural meeting launching the provision of Y.M.C.A. hostels for munitions workers in Wales (part 2). Glamorgan Gazette 13 October 1916.
Report of Edith Picton Turbervill preaching in the Bishopsgate Congregational Chapel. Cambrian Daily Leader 14th February 1919.
‘Small Talk’ column describing Edith Picton Turbervill preaching at a regular Church of England service in North Somercotes, Lincs. Glamorgan Gazette 11th July 1919.
Report of Edith Picton Turbervill joining the Labour Party. Cambria Daily Leader 18th January 1919
The Labour women MPs elected in 1929, Edith Picton Turbervill is centre back. Front right is a very young Jennie Lee, later married to Aneurin Bevan. Aged 24, she was too young to vote, but not too young to stand. Next to her is Ellen Wilkinson.
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
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
Place of birth: Swansea
Service: Widow, Mother, Munitions Worker
Death: --, Tawe Lodge, Swansea, Tuberculosis / Y diciau
Notes: Margaret Morris began work at NEF Pembrey after her soldier husband was killed in August 1916. There she is said to have contracted the tuberculosis from which she died. She left children aged 12, 8 and 2 and a half.
Place of birth: Lancashire, 1880
Service: Wife and Mother
Notes: Gertrude Fairclough was the wife of Major Rowland Fairclough, Royal Welch Fusiliers, and spent her married life in Mold, Flintshire. Family traditions says that once her husband had joined his regiment in France (despite being 48 in 1914), she moved into a hotel.
Gertrude Fairclough c.1915
Gertrude Fairclough née Appleby, wife of Major Rowland Fairclough, Royal Welch Fusiliers.