Chailey's nurses - Sussex 54 VAD


My Chailey research began here. It was Edith Oliver's album which she kept during her time as a VAD probationer in Chailey, Sussex which led me to research the wounded soldiers and, in time, the men and women of Chailey. This photograph is from Frances Blencowe's collection.

The following list of Sussex 54 VAD personnel has largely been compiled from a single 1914 source and is certainly incomplete. It is ironic that although VAD Probationer Edith Oliver inspired the research that led to this website, it is Edith Oliver and her colleagues in Sussex 54 VAD that I have least information about. I would welcome further input from visitors to this blog who can either add names to the list or augment any of the biographical details contained here.

I have used the term "Nurse" for those women who provided nursing services although strictly speaking, "Probationer" is the correct term for those VAD members who were not qualified nurses.

Identified personnel in the photo above as follows:

Back row: Edith Oliver (fourth from left)
Middle row: Margaret Cotesworth (second from right), Annie Hoidge (third from left), Dr Orton (far right)
Front row: A Gander (second from left), Rose Smythe (fourth from left), Fenn sisters fifth and sixth from right)
Foreground: Frances Isabel Blencowe 

Known personnel who served with Sussex 54 VAD are listed below:

Miss or Mrs BEST, Cook 
Miss Frances Isabel BLENCOWE, Nurse and Commandant
Mrs Mabel Frances BLENCOWE, Quartermaster
Miss Margaret Penelope BLENCOWE, Nurse
Mrs Emily BRYANT, Nurse
Miss Susan Margaret COTESWORTH, Commandant
Miss or Mrs CURTIS, Cook
Miss Jessie Mary FENN, Nurse
Miss Alice Kathleen FENN, Nurse
Mss A GANDER, Assistant Quartermaster
Miss or Mrs GASTON, Nurse
Miss Helen Marian GREEN, Quartermaster (from October 1915)
Miss Marina Edith Bourne GROUNDS, Nurse
Miss Unis Reta Bourne GROUNDS, Nurse
Miss Rose A HANCOCK, Nurse
Miss Annie Bertha HOIDGE, Nurse
Miss Dorothy Austen HOLCROFT, Clerk
Miss Emily Morris MARSHALL, Matron
Miss Edith OLIVER, Nurse
Dr William Stewart ORTON, Medical Officer
Sister OSMUND, Lady Superintendent
Alice POINTING, Cook
Miss Kathleen Etheldred POWNALL, Nurse
Miss or Mrs ROOTES, Nurse
Miss Marguerite Harriet SANDFORD, Nurse
Miss Rose Beatrice SMYTHE, Nurse
Mrs Ada Elizabeth WEST, Nurse
Dr H R WHITEHEAD, Surgeon General
Miss or Mrs O WILSON, Nurse


The image above appears in the front of Nurse Oliver's album. Sussex 54 VAD Commandant Margaret Cotesworth takes centre stage.


Red Cross Society Field Day, Stanmer Park, Falmer, Sussex 1913. Sussex 54 VAD assembles. many of the faces here are clearly identifiable in the group photo at the top of this page which was probably taken at around the same time. Together with Sussex 78 VAD (Worthing) they provided a base hospital, patching up ‘wounded’ men from two companies of Lewes Territorials.  Nurse Oliver, a head taller than her companions stands on the extreme left of the second row.



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