THE WOMEN LEFT BEHIND

Posted 8th February 2017 by Maggie Clowes

By the end of 1915 129 men had joined up - few families were unaffected - husbands, sons, boy-friends, grandsons gone. There is next to no information in the scrapbooks about how families coped. They must have been constantly anxious, missing someone who was usually around, watching for the post, scanning newspaper reports, probably short of money. There would have been fear too when they heard of civilian deaths. As the war dragged on there were threats of rationing.

However for many of the women the war was an opportunity. Fund raising was a challenge and it allowed many women to organise events, to perform in public. As we have seen some of the ladies were in their element and may have found more purpose in their lives. Those who didn’t star beavered away in the background, joining working parties, baking for fetes, creating costumes for performers. Many women volunteered to become VADS undertaking training and putting in long hours in the Red House Hospital where the discipline was strict. It was run by Miss Marion Heelis who was the Commandant and Mrs Bosworth who was the Quartermaster initially but was replaced by Lady Ione Tufton after what sounds like a bitter disagreement. (of which more later!) We have the names of 28 VAD nurses and of nearly 40 other women who helped in various capacities.

Women Left BehindThe Roll of Honour which has pride of place in the Moot Hall is headed "The Men who answered their Country's Call" but if you look carefully you will find the names of two women there. One was Nurse M Heelis , Commandant at the local hospital, the other was Nurse Hilda Hodgson who trained as a masseuse at the Devonshire Hospital in Buxton for two years before her health broke down on the very day she was taking her final exam in Manchester. She seemed to recover well but then died at home on 20 May 1918, probably of T.B. Her name is on both the memorial in St Lawrence Churchyard and on the one in the cemetery.

Sadly there was no public tribute to one of the VADs, “An ardent worker at the Appleby Military hospital who had worked in the hospital ever since it opened”; she was 26 year old Elsie Parkin, daughter of John Parkin of the Sands. She died of pneumonia.

Other young women are likely to have done war work but we only have one mention of this. The Teasdale family lost two sons in the war, two more were wounded; the obituary of Driver John Teasdale refers to two sisters who were nursing in war hospitals (their names don’t appear on the list of VADS working in Appleby but they could well have gone elsewhere before the Red House opened) and another who was making munitions possibly in the shell factory just outside Carlisle or at very large one in Eastriggs just over the Border.