Monthly Archives: November 2020

A welcome peace – November 1918

Teresa Hulton (1890-1972)

On the 21st of November 1918 Teresa’s acquaintance, Eduardo Di Giovanni, wrote to Teresa that he had met Costanza who said that Teresa was ill. Eduardo wrote that he had heard that Teresa was ‘expected shortly to begin your work again. Are you not too ambitious perhaps for the strength you have? Last summer you seemed very frail, and I thought then that you needed rest. You have done so much already. Why not knock off a bit?’

Mrs Watkins album 157

The nursing team that Teresa was part of are photographed with wounded soldiers (c) Hamish Scott

Teresa’s war efforts are even more admirable given that she suffered from health issues, including frequent severe headaches. Since the war began many had advised her to take it easy but she had valiantly carried on and many were grateful for the efforts that she made in her wartime work. E. V. Lucas wrote in his pamphlet about the British Red Cross in Italy, Outposts of Mercy,the wonderful missionary spirit of our countrywomen was never better exemplified than in the devoted toil of this little band’ established by Mrs Watkins.

Newspaper clipping from the Tribuna Illustrata showing Mabel Campbell and Teresa Hulton helping the wounded soldiers on the train at San Giovanni di Manzano, northern Italy, taken between October and December 1915.

A newspaper clipping from the Tribuna Illustrata showing Teresa and a fellow nurse, Mabel Campbell, taking refreshments to a train load of wounded soldiers.

The end of the war meant that Teresa could ‘knock off a bit.’ On November the 3rd the Austro-Hungarians signed an armistice with Italy. The Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed as the ruling Habsburgs were overthrown and the armistice was signed by Austria and Hungary as separate countries. By November the 4th the fighting was over in Italy. 400,000 Austro-Hungarians had died and 1,200,000 had been wounded on the Italian Front. Italy had lost a total of around 650,000, with 950,000 wounded.

1732 Attingham atlas map

Europe pictured in a 1732 map book in the Attingham collection

Italy’s war aims had been to gain contested territory from Austria-Hungary, such as Dalmatia on the Adriatic Sea. The British and French argued that Italy’s contribution to the outcome of the war was limited and many of the territories that the Allies had promised to Italy were never granted, which led to resentment from many Italians.

As the war ended for Italy Mrs Watkins and Teresa were setting up beds in their new Gardone hospital and caring for some patients who had the Spanish Flu. Eva Williams wrote to Teresa saying that she supposes everyone in the hospital will be rejoicing in the peace news. Soon the wartime outposts established by Mrs Watkins would not be needed. Some photographs in Teresa’s album show the war hospital at San Giovanni Manzano where she had worked. In the images it is possible to see the debris caused by the war which needed to be cleared away.

Teresa holding a small animal stood with another lady

Teresa and a fellow war nurse stand outside a wartime shelter. Teresa (in the hat) holds a small animal which may be the abandoned kitten rescued by the nurses.

Eva Williams asked if Teresa was still looking after the grey kitten that had been adopted by the nurses. Teresa loved animals and owned many dogs whilst living at Attingham. Photographs show her with Tenace, a black and white French Bulldog who was given to her in 1908 by George Eustis, an American admirer. George Eustis had been traveling to the US via Paris when he purchased the dog and had it sent to Venice. Although she eagerly accepted the dog, Teresa refused George who was later to marry an American lady.

Teresa in square 1919

Teresa with Tenace in 1912

Lord Berwick (1877-1947)

The London Gazette announced on 26th November 1918 that Lieutenant Lord Berwick had been promoted to a Captain in the Shropshire Yeomanry on 28th September and that he was to remain seconded.

Lord Berwick was uncertain about when he might be demobilised. He told Teresa on 19th November 1918 that he had ‘unexpectedly received orders to go on special duty.’  He was sent to Fiume (now Rijeka, in Croatia) but it was to be a short posting. He was to return to Headquarters that day because ‘I got other orders just as I was starting to come here.’ He was sorry to leave ‘an attractive sunny place … so soon’ but he hoped to see Teresa when he was back in Italy.  However, the following day he discovered that, ‘my sudden recall was due to a telegram from the War Office that I was to report to London at once.’

Mrs Watkins album 256

Fiume stamps in Mrs Watkins’s wartime album (c) Hamish Scott

Coincidentally, Teresa’s next move was to Fiume, where she went with Mrs Watkins to open a recreation hut for Italian soldiers. ‘How I wish you were still there,’ she wrote to Lord Berwick.

Lord Berwick travelled to Paris where, in his role as Honorary Secretary to the British Embassy, he helped with the forthcoming Peace talks once the war had ended.

An English version of the Treatise of Versailles, photograph in the Public Domain

An English version of the Treatise of Versailles, photograph in the Public Domain

By early November mass unrest had erupted in Germany and many men in the German Navy mutinied as they refused to engage in battle with the British Navy. On the 9th of November 1918 the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, abdicated and prepared to leave Germany. Germany was declared a republic.

On the 11th of November 1918 at 5:10 am in a railway carriage at Compiègne, France, the Germans signed the Armistice. This became effective at 11am; the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Fighting continued along the Western Front until precisely 11 o’clock, with 2,000 casualties experienced that day by all sides. Artillery barrages erupted shortly before 11am as soldiers wanted to claim that they fired the last shot in the war.

armistice

This photograph in the Imperial War Museum collection shows the train in which the armistice was signed (c) IWM Q 58432

Total estimated casualties of all the nations that fought in the First World War were 8.5 million killed and 21 million wounded.

 

Attingham

On the 6th of November 1918 Private Ernest Thomas William Luther of the Machine Gun Corps, formerly the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI), died aged twenty as a prisoner of war. He was the son of John and Ann Luther who lived in Uckington, a village near Attingham. His father was a wagoner. Ernest had enlisted in Shrewsbury into the KSLI. He was buried at Saint-Ghislain Hainaut Province Belgium and there is a memorial to him in St Eata’s Church, Atcham.

Another Shropshire man to die in November 1918 was the poet Wilfred Owen. Born in Oswestry in 1893, he came to live in Shrewsbury in 1907. Wilfred Owen attended the Technical College by the English Bridge and from 1913 to 1915 was teaching at a school in France. He returned to England to enlist into the army.

wilfred owen

A photograph of Wilfred Owen in the Imperial War Museum collection (c) IWM Q 79045

Wilfred Owen died on the 4th of November 1918 crossing the Sambre Canal on a raft. The Second Battle of the Sambre, which began on the 4th of November, was the final Allied attack of the war.

Staff and patients in the war hospital at Attingham were relieved to hear that the war had ended. During the war 38,000 V.A.D. nurses had worked in convalescent hospitals or driven ambulances in Britain. The wartime convalescent hospital at Attingham saw a total of 397 patients admitted, with one death. Attingham Park Auxiliary Military Hospital closed after the end of the War, late in 1918 or early in 1919. In a letter to Lord Berwick in April 1919, Captain Van Bergen, the tenant of Attingham Hall, referred to the hospital as ‘a great boon to the country and county’.

A poster commemorating the use of Attingham Hall as a military hospital during WW1

A poster commemorating the use of Attingham Hall as a military hospital during WW1