Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wallace SIDNEY Mitchell

There's some additional information on Sidney Mitchell's page on the Chailey 1914-1918 site, thanks to a surviving - but badly water-damaged - service record in the WO 363 series. Sidney was a regular soldier who had joined the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment in June 1913, transferring shortly afterwards to the RGA as a regular soldier. He spent much of his time in Salonica, returning to England in March 1919 and then having a short-lived spell with the Military Foot Police in Dublin.

Interestingly, he also appears to have worked at Chailey Heritage at some point in time, presumably whilst he was also serving with the Special Reserve.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

The story of a hut - a photo dated

Yesterday, I posted a photo of Japanese nurses as Netley in 1914, and thanks to the backdrop in that photo I've been able to date another photograph in my collection (above). Click on it for a clearer picture.

For some reason known only to myself, I'd always assumed that this photo dated to later in the war. The background in this photo though, is almost identical (if not, actually, identical) to the Japanese nurses' photo. This means that it can only date to 1915. See the extract below, from the Tornoto Star of 13th January 1915.

The lady standing second from left on the back row is Frances Isabel Blencowe, a leading light with, and later commandant of, Sussex 54 VAD. The woman sitting third right on the front row is Emily Morris Marshall who would later take up the position of matron at Hickwells and Beechland House.

I'd be delighted if anybody can tell me anything about the ranks (for want of a better term) of any of the ladies pictured, and also what the ribbons on some of their tunics represent. In the meantime I need to update Frances Blencowe's page.

My thanks to Marika for the Toronto Star clipping which appears on the Great War Forum thread I mentioned yesterday.


Oh well, it was a good theory whilst it lasted - about eight hours. My thanks to Sue Light for insightful comments as ever - see comments below.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Netley's Japanese nurses

Francis Isabel Blencowe spent some of her VAD days at the Netley Military Hospital in Hampshire. Photos in her album depict Japanese nurses, and I've just come across a group photo of these ladies on an interesting thread on the Great War forum.

I'm reproducing that photo here, and my thanks to Marika in Canada for posting it on GWF. There is a follow-up to this photo which I'll post in a day or two.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

John Thomson Allan

I've been sent some intriguing information about John Thomson Allan who was a patient at Hickwells in 1915.

Frieda Gardhouse writes:

"John Thomson Allan lied about his age to get into the army after his father, a miner, got him a job in the mine. This lasted for three weeks as he hated it. My aunt, John's daughter, told me he has a South Africa medal, was in the Highland Light Infantry [and] Gordon Highlanders. She also mentioned the Boer War and gave me photos of him in his kilt, and with bagpipes."

By the time John Allan was at Hickwells he was serving with the 4th Gordon Highlanders and, if he was a Boer War veteran, must have re-enlisted as his Gordon's number dates to late November or early December 1914.

John Allan's medal index card courtesy of the National Archives.