Sunday, 26 February 2017

Wimereux, France

One hundred years ago, on 27th February 1917, Kitty Amorel Trevelyan died in Wimereux, France after contracting Measles and developing Pneumonia.  Kitty had been working for the British Army Service Corps canteens as a volunteer helper.  I wonder which hospital she was treated in? 

Among the poets who were nurses during WW1 was Rosaleen Graves, sister of the soldier poet and writer Robert Graves.  Rosaleen's poem "The Smells of Home" was the first poem written by Rosaleen that I read. I was so impressed that I had to find out more about her.

Rosaleen was born in Wimbledon on 7thMarch 1894.   Her father was Alfred Perceval Graves, the second son of The Rt. Rev. Charles Graves, Bishop of Limerick (1846 – 1931).  Alfred was a school inspector originally from Taunton, Somerset, and her mother was Amalie (‘Amy’) Elizabeth Sophie (or Sophia) von Ranke (1857 – 1951), eldest daughter of Professor Heinrich von Ranke MD, of Munich.  Rosaleen’s grandmother was the daughter of Norwegian astronomer Ludwig Tiarks.   Rosaleen’s father was an Anglo-Irish poet, born in Dublin.

Rosaleen was  not only a  poet but also an accomplished musician. She joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment on 17th September 1915 and, after initial training in Chislehurst and London, was sent to No. 54 General Hospital in Wimereux, France on 23rd November 1917.  Rosaleen served in France until 14th March 1919.

No. 54 Hospital in Wimereux was one of the Base Hospitals known as "London General Hospital" and was in operation from July 1917 until May 1919 - not in time to help Kitty Treveleyan. 

You can find a comprehensive description of the Base Hospitals in France and elsewhere during the First World War, by following the link http://www.1914-1918.net/hospitals.htm  

Rosaleen's poem "The Smells of Home" - which awakened my curiosity and made me find out more about Rosaleen - was first published in "The Spectator" on 30th November 1918 and is included on page 269 of the WW1 Anthology "The Winter of the World Poems of the First World War", edited by Dominic Hibberd and John Onions, published by Constable and Robinson Ltd., London, 2007.

Kitty Trevelyan was 19 years old when she died.  Kitty had volunteered at the outbreak of war, which would have been quite difficult for her as she was under age.  She joined the British Army Service Corps Canteens and was sent to France.  Kitty's parents were the late Captain Walter Raleigh Trevelyan from Dublin and his wife, Alice, who had re-married and become Mrs Sinclair.  Kitty lived with her mother in the village of Meany in Devon before the war.

Sue Robinson of the Group Wenches in Trenches The Roses of No Man's Land has been researching Kitty for many years and regularly visits Kitty's grave in Wimereux Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.   Sue has managed to get Kitty's name inscribed on the War Memorial in Meany and a special service of dedication is to be held there today - Sunday, 27th February 2017.

Along with Kitty in Wimereux Communal Cemetery, you will find the graves of some of the other women who died while serving during the First World War: Mildred Clayton-Swan, Emily Helena Cole, Isabella Duncan, Margaret Evans, Jessie Hockey, Nita King, Alice Lancaster, Rubie Pickard (who at 67 is among the oldest of the volunteers during WW1), Barbara St. John, Anna Whitely, Christina Wilson and Myrtle Wilson.  "We will remember them…"

Sources:  Commonwealth War Graves Commission List of Female Casualties of the First World War, Sue Robinson of Wenches in Trenches The Roses of No Man's Land and "The Winter of the World Poems of the First World War" Eds. D. Hibberd and J. Onions (Constable & Robinson Ltd., London, 2007)

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