Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Mikado - Beechlands, June 1917

"Entertainments" of one sort or another seem to have been common currency for VAD hospitals during the First World War, both as a means of raising morale, and of raising money.  The photograph above, undated, appears in Nurse Oliver's album and is one of those photographs that I have looked at and pondered on hundreds of times.  I now know though, that it dates to June 1917, thanks to this article in the Sussex Agricultural Express on the 22nd June.

Clerk Dorothy Austen Holcroft, Sussex 54 VAD

Dorothy Austen Holcroft was born in Morpeth, Northumberland in about 1888. By the time the 1901 census was taken, however, she was living in Sussex with her parents and two sisters. Dorothy's father, Thomas Austen Holcroft, was a Canadian-born Chuch of England clergyman serving the parish of Bolney in Sussex and living at Bolney vicarage. The family also had four servants as can be seen from the 1901 census return:

I know nothing of Dorothy's service during the First World War, only that her name appears in Nurse Oliver's album.  She never married and died in Lewes in 1970.

Probationer Rose Agnes Hancock, Sussex 54 VAD

Rose Agnes Hancock was born in Fulbourne, Cambridgeshire in about 1866. She appears on the 1911 census as a 45-year-old parlour maid working for the Green family at the Red House, Chailey. She had been in service since at least 1881, had worked as a parlourmaid form at at least 1891 and, by the time she joined Sussex 54 VAD, had served the Green family for over 14 years. According to her British Red Cross Society card, above, she served with Sussex 54 VAD from the 14th October 1915 and worked a total of 1429 hours. Her employer's daughter, Helen Marian Green, also joined Sussex 54 VAD on the same day.

Quartermaster Helen Marian Green, Sussex 54 VAD

Helen Marian Green was born on the 28th August 1877 in Sarrat, Hertfordshire.  She appears on the 1881 census as a three year old living at Great Sarratt Hall, Hertfordshire with her family.  The head of the family was William Green, a 28 year old Australian landowner (born in Melbourne) who is noted on the census as  a farmer of about 300 acres and employing eight men and two boys.  His 27 year old wife Marian had been born in Rickmansworth and they had three children: Helen, Lilian Green (aged one, born in Rickmansworth) and Bernard Bachan Green (aged ten months, born in Rickmansworth on the 12th May 1880).  

Two more brothers, Edward Wilson Green (born 19th September 1881), and Roger Day Green (born 26th May 1884) would swell the family further and in due course Bernard Green and Edward Green would fight for their King and Country during the First World War.
During the war years, the family lived at The Red House, Chailey and on October 7th 1915, Helen's sister Lilian married Dr William Stewart Orton of Sussex 54 VAD.
Helen's index card held by the British Red Cross archive (above) notes that she served as Quartermaster from October 1915 until December 1918, working a total of 7140 hours. 

She appears on the 1939 Register still living at The Red House, Chailey with her widowed mother and, remarkably, her three bachelor brothers.