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  

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)

Monday 6 February 2017

Joyce Amphlett (1897 - 1985) – British

One of the nicest things about this commemorative exhibition project is the number of people who have contacted me with the names of poets not yet on my list.  My grateful thanks to-day to Steve Millward for finding Joyce and sending me a poem written by her.

Steve sent me the following report:
“On a visit to Hartlebury Castle (Worcestershire County Museum) at the weekend, I came across an exhibition (running to March 2018) on the Castle's history as WW1 VAD hospital. The exhibits included three of five scrapbooks kept by Nurse Laura Stocks (b 1877). One of them contained a poem - 'Absence' by Joyce Amphlett...  The attendant I spoke to was unable to give any information on Joyce Amphlett.  Anyway the poem reads as follows:


As winter sunshine, falling softly gold,
Lays gentle fingers on the shell-torn ground,
So shall our thoughts encompass you around,
The benediction of our love enfold;
And never shall you feel the world be cold
For this warm refuge that your hearts have found
Your slumbers shall be sweeter and more sound
For lullabies we sing you as of old,
And our hearts music, like a perfect song,
Shall fill the long-drawn silence of your sleep.
You shall march nobly with your hearts more strong,
Your lives more vital, and your faith more deep
For us who love you through the ages long,
Who live, remembering the tryst we keep.

Joyce Amphlett
Jan. 1917 “

Many thanks indeed Steve.

This is what I have so far found out about Joyce:

Born in Ombersley, Worcestershire, Marian Joyce Amphlett’s birth was registered in the first quarter of 1897.  Joyce Amplett’s parents were Thomas Edward Amphlett, a farmer, and his wife, Marian Constance Jane Amphlett, nee Rogers, who were married in Kidderminster in 1891.   Joyce seems to have been educated at home with her elder sister, Rosamond Constance, who was born in 1896.

In February 1916, Joyce volunteered to work with the Worcestershire Voluntary Aid Detachment of the Red Cross. I haven’t been able to find out in what capacity she worked yet.  At some stage Joyce may have worked at Hartlebury Castle, which was requisitioned for use as a hospital during the First World War.

Joyce’s poem “Absence” was written into the autograph album of a nurse who served in WW1 at the hospital in Hartlebury Castle - photo sent by Steve. 

I haven’t been able to find out anything else about Joyce. If anyone can help please get in touch.

Sources:  Find my Past, Free BMD and the British Red Cross Archive website.

To find out more about the exhibition at Hartlebury Castle see the website