Monthly Archives: March 2019

Rising demands – March 1917

Teresa Hulton (1890-1972)

 

A 1917 booklet published by the Joint War Organisation, formed by the wartime combination of the Red Cross and the Order of St. John, speaks of how ‘during the past few months, the calls upon the energies of the Joint Societies have grown and multiplied, the demands for their help have risen in a higher and still higher tide with every day of war.’ This was something that Teresa could readily identify with in her war work with Mrs Watkins’s team in north-east Italy.

Mrs Watkins album 231

A nurse in Mrs Watkins’s team stands at the back of an ambulance giving out bread and milk to hungry soldiers and civilians. (c) Hamish Scott

In May 1916 the Duchess of Aosta, head of the Italian Red Cross nurses during WWI,  had attended the inauguration of Mrs Watkin’s first large recreation hut at Villanova Judro in Friuli. Following its success, Mrs Watkins established more recreation huts where Italian soldiers could enjoy respite from the front line. Soon Mrs Watkins was responsible for six huts whilst Teresa started a committee in Florence to supply eight large recreation huts for the 2nd and 3rd Italian Armies. The huts included a canteen and were supplied with games, gramophones, newspapers, books and writing materials.

Mrs Watkins album 145

This lovely card in Mrs Watkins’s wartime album is a programme for the opening of the recreation hut at Villanova Judro. (c) Hamish Scott

During March 1917 there was even more work than usual for Teresa. Mrs Watkins was ill and Miss Sheldon left the team, meaning that Teresa had to temporarily take on tasks done by both women.

Mrs Watkins album 094

Mrs Watkins (c) Hamish Scott

Teresa was lucky to have supportive friends willing to help her with her extra workload. Rachel Scott writes that she is coming to help at Cervignano but she sounds busy enough with her work with hospital supplies, having just revived 18 huge bales. I looked at the contents bills and extracted cushions and gauze swabs. The bales contain shirts, splints, bandages, pillows, sheets, blankets etc.’

The strain placed on nurses and the risks that they faced were recognised by the Red Cross. The British Red Cross had established a special retreat for sick and overworked nurses in the villa owned by Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, in the Forest of Hardelot in France in 1915. This expanded and further retreats were established as demand grew.

 

Lord Berwick (1877-1947)

 

Lord Berwick rejoined the Shropshire Yeomanry in Morpeth, Northumberland with the rank of Lieutenant. At Morpeth the commanding officer was his friend and Shropshire neighbour Lord Forester. Lord Berwick’s unit was now a cycle unit and there is a bill in the archives for his Raleigh bicycle.

Bill for Lord Berwicks SY Bike 1917

A bill for Lord Berwick’s Raleigh Bicycle

Lord Berwick was part of the second of the three regiments that made up the Shropshire Yeomanry. The 2/1st regiment were based at Morpeth and also in East Anglia until July 1916 when they were converted from a mounted brigade to a cyclist unit. They were subsequently sent to serve in Ireland. When the Second regiment went abroad, Lord Berwick asked to go with them but was turned down.

SY Band At Attingham

A Shropshire Yeomanry band at Attingham. Lord Berwick maintained a strong connection to the Shropshire Yeomanry after WWI.

In March 1917 the first regiment of the Shropshire Yeomanry was merged with the 1/1st Cheshire Yeomanry into 10th KSLI (King’s Shropshire Light Infantry). The 1/1st regiment had been dismounted in 1915 and had served in both Egypt and Palestine before being combined with the Cheshire Yeomanry. The KSLI saw further service in the Western Desert and were then sent to the Western Front in May 1918 where they stayed for the remainder of the war.

 

Attingham

 

March 1917 marked many new wartime developments for the people of Britain. On the 28th of March the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was formed, offering women the chance to serve directly in the armed forces. Over 57,000 women enrolled in the WAAC, with 9,000 serving in France. This 1918 photograph shows WAAC members posing with their cricket bats in Étaples, south of Calais in the north of France. The women invited convalescent soldiers to join in their game. They hoped that the exercise would aid their recovery.

WAAC cricket team

A WAAC cricket team at Etaples. Photograph in the Imperial War Museum Collection, IWM Q 8754

On the 5th of March 1917 the Imperial War Museum was founded and since then has been doing an excellent job in commemorating both the First World War and many other conflicts.

Overseas, the Russian revolution began. On March the 15th 1917 Czar Nicholas II abdicated. The Allies welcomed the new Provisional Government hoping that this would keep Russia in the war.