Thanks so much to all of you for writing in the Visitors Book. Getting feedback like yours has really made all the hard work worthwhile. I have only included parts of a few of my replies below; for example, when someone raises a general point which needs an explanation or response.
Don’t forget to check if there is a name you recognise here: anurseatthefront.org.uk/names-mentioned-in-the-diaries
Many of the links below will take you to Edie’s original website (www.edithappleton.org.uk).
Dick Robinson – Edie’s great nephew
Gill and David Lindsay
Hello, We have just spent a wonderful week in France following in Edith’s footsteps. We loved Etretat, as she did, but Le Treport hasn’t improved since she called it a dirty little town! The village of Eu where she liked to walk, is now a town but still very pretty. In the tourist information office in Etretat they loved seeing the book which they said that they would stock if only it was available in French. I don’t suppose it is worth the expense of translation and reprinting but they took down all the details for anyone who might be interested. Love your web site. Gill and David
[The page on Edie’s website about Etretat can be seen here.]
British Columbia, Canada..originally, Coventry, England
Thank you so much for sharing this with us all on the world wide web! My Grandfather signed up in 1917. As a child the two stories he told were of experiencing a truce at Christmas (even though we know by then they were forbidden!) and being deafened by an explosion in the trench that killed his best friend. The diaries are an excellent primary source for WW1 historians. Thank you again!
I heard extracts from the diaries on Womens’ Hour on BBC Radio 4. Thank you for making them available to the general public. I was specifically looking for references to the London Scottish regiment, which was mentioned in volume 3. It has helped to piece together information concerning my maternal grandfather. I will now look for references to my paternal grandfather, great uncle and other members of the family who served at the front. Together with references to the Durham Light Infantry and the all the various medical roles that members of the family undertook in the First World War.
Ireland – County Antrim
Edie’s diaries are an inspiration for anyone interested in military history, inspiring to learn a little about how medical personnel deal with the horrors of war which were on a new and unprecedented scale. And how her walks observing the beauties around her, her hobbies, the entertainments tha staff and patients organised and perhaps writing thediary helped her to keep going. My wife, our son and self learned about Edie last August when we shared a table in a restaurant in Ypres with a family we now know are the Robinsons. Thank you Dick and Lisa for telling us about her.
Man of Kent living in France
I found these diaries via Twitter this afternoon and have enjoyed reading and learning from them. I was like Edie born in Deal but I never knew that such a brave lady had also been born there. It’s good see that she is now being remembered with the Blue plaque and information in the museum.
[Edie’s blue plaque was unveiled in November 2014. You can read all about it here.]
Hello, thanks for the diary pages which I found very interesting. I discovered them while trying to find information about my husbands Great Uncle – Mr Percy Frederick Davies who served with R.A.M.C, in both Le Havre and Etretat, with No.1 General Hopspital. We have many souvenirs of which he must have brought back with him from places like Abbeville. We have some photos also some similar to the ones shown. If anyone can help I would love to know when he left France. I know he died in Limerick, Ireland 4/4/1921 still doing military service. Thanks.
Powell, Tennessee. USA
I loved the diaries. Many of the locations in Belgium are familiar. I visited Ypres and the Tyne Cot Cemetery in the 90’s while I served with the United States Army. Would definitely recommend this as a great source for WW1 history.
Having a holiday apartment in Etretat Normandy made Edith’s diaries even more fascinating because they contain descriptions of buildings and places with which we are very familiar.
Those whose relatives were nursed by Edith and her colleagues should try to visit Etretat and find for themselves the places mentioned in the diaries.
[Chris has a great website http://familyatwar.co.uk and his page on Etretat is here. I have also done a new Post about this which includes information about patients of Edie’s who she cared for until they died and whose graves she later tended. You can read the Post here. DR]
Having just read Edie’s diaries I have been amazed at this first-hand account of the war and the bravery, compassion and good humour of the medical staff involved. It has provided some insight into my own grandfather’s war service with the RAMC in Salonika. I do hope you find the missing diaries. What a brilliant treasure for your family.
Thank you for making available such an inspiring record of dedication. I understand that the Second World War was a major factor in the development of my own profession (physiotherapy). Such a burden of responsibility Edie and nurses like her carried in the First World War! But she knew how to balance duty time with activities and places that renewed her energy and positive attitude. What an example.
England, East Sussex
My grandfather, a Private in 2 DCLI, was admitted to No3 CCS on the 20th May 1915 with gunshot wounds. While there is no evidence that he ever met Edith Appleton, (though I hope he did!) it is truly gratifying to know of the kindness and care that he would have received. Like many others, at least for a little time, grandfather would have been warm, fed and so well cared for.
Albert Alexander Adams No. 17500 2nd Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, later the Labour Corp. He enlisted on 30th December 1914, arrived in France on the 6th May 1915 and was first wounded on the 19th/20th of May 1915. He survived the War and died in 1932 from the effects of gas on his lungs.
[Click here for the page which includes the dates mentioned above. DR]
The story of Charlie Kerr continues to inspire me, for the love and respect shown by Edith for a member of the 2nd Manchester Pals. My Grandfather was also one of the original members of the 17th Bttn. I think Charlie must have been wounded in the shelling of Suzanne on 29th February. I found no record of gas shelling then, so it is a bit inconclusive. Reports on the period of the Bttn history can be found here.
Very sad, but Edith was truly enlightening. Thanks for publishing.
[The page about Private Charles Kerr is on Edie’s website here. DR]
The Lost World of Edith Appleton.
I am coming to the end of Edith’s diaries now and my only option is to read those diaries again. Her dedication to her work throughout her time in France, tending to the needs of ill and broken soldiers is humbling.
My grandfather, Evan Roberts, lost his life at the Front and the scenes and conversations Edith had with her soldier patients depicts a time long vanished, but yields up images of what life was like in my grandfather’s time.
Charles Kerr, 21 years old who died after much suffering, was nursed and loved by Edith, who kissed him for his mother and later kissed him for himself, depicts extraordinary compassion for her patients.
I am compelled to point out one omission in your otherwise perfect memorial for Edith. Toby the little terrier has to be on that list, wasn’t he also a companion on her many walks around her locality.
With sincere regards.
[Thanks for your very warm message, John. I have taken your advice and added Toby to the list of names of those mentioned by Edie! DR]
Carol & Geoffrey Stickler
Have been to the unveiling of the Blue Plaque for Edith Appleton at No 9 Golden Street, Deal this morning. A very poignant day; a 100 hundred years but one day since Sister Edith Appleton started her journey to The Front on the 9th October 1914. Her Great nephew Dick Robinson had the honour of the unveiling which was followed by a reception at which Dick read out the very moving letter Edith wrote to her Mother on reaching her destination. With many thanks to Roger, the present owner of the house for his hospitality and to the Deal Society who organise the Blue Plaques in Deal. Carol & Geoffrey Stickler.
[A page about the unveiling can be seen here. DR]
Thank you so much for sharing these inspirational diaries with us all! I found Edith’s ability to find pleasure in the simplest of things and her positivity at what must have been the darkest of times completely overwhelming….she puts modern day life right into perspective and makes you proud to be British….thank you Edith
Having just read the book detailing Edie’s diaries I have to confess to having been totally engrossed in her life as a nurse on the front line. Her whole way of writing is compulsive reading coupled with her touches of humour. I would loved to have met her personally and asked her so many things about her life on the front. The missing periods of the diary really intrigue me and I wonder why they were removed (perhaps a love in her life that she chose to keep private) sheer conjecture on my part as I believe she would have been an excellent mother had she started off earlier in her life. If there are any talks on her diaries I would appreciate you letting me know where they will be as I would make every effort to attend one of them.
Many thanks for bringing this little heroine to our attention she is a great inspiration to our younger generation. Regards Roy Parrish
[I was particularly interested in your theory about the missing volumes and I have to admit that it wasn’t one that had occurred to me! But perhaps that’s because I knew Edie well as a child in the 1940s and 50s: rather a strict old lady. But now that I’m that age myself I guess it might be true.
I have spent a lot of time in the archives on the Isle of Wight, where Edie spent the last 35 years of her life, trying to locate the missing volumes – but without success. Having said all that, you may have noticed that Edie does mention a certain Major Martyn more than anyone else and I was sufficiently interested in that to have put together a page including all her quotes about him; you can see it here http://anurseatthefront.org.uk/names-mentioned-in-the-diaries/other-people/medical-colleagues/major-martyn/. Do let me know what you think! DR]
My great Uncle is George Thomas Alfred Limbrick. George’s brother is my great grandfather. Horton Charles Limbrick. Horton was lucky enough to make it home from France although with damaged eyes due to gas exposure. To my knowledge no member of the family has been able to visit George’s burial place. I would be very interested in reading what Edith had to say about my uncle as it so very difficult to find out anything much about him.
[Thanks for getting in touch, Michael. George Thomas Alfred Limbrick is listed amongst the names mentioned in Edie’s dairy. You can see it on this page – http://www.edithappleton.org.uk/index/names.asp – and you’ll see, in section 2 next to his name, the two dates on which he is mentioned. On the first date -16 August 1918 he is not mentioned by name but it is clearly him. In the second entry, on 13 September 1918, he is mentioned after Edie receives a box of chocolates from his fiancée. I suspect this is because it will have been one of Edie’s duties to write to the relatives of patients who died in her care, in a similar way that officers wrote to the families of their men who died in action. DR]
Paul R Rees
I have read Edie’s book for a review on my History degree. As an ex serviceman from the Gulf War I felt great pride in knowing that the care that our boys received and are still receiving from our medical staff has its foundations built on great people like Edie. She was a shinning beacon of hope, in the terrible dark of war. God bless her.
North Yorks UK
I have read the diary and found it both enjoyable and very interesting especially as I was a military wife and now work for the Firstlight Trust, a Forces Charity serving current members and veterans of all services.
[Thanks for getting in touch, Maggie. I’ve had a look at the website of the Firstlight Trust – http://www.firstlighttrust.co.uk/. What a great job you do.]
I borrowed this book from my local library as I have always had a great interest in WW1, and this was following the story from a different viewpoint. I had hoped that maybe Edith nursed at Etaples, as this was where we found my husband’s uncle – Gunner William Crook (aged 17) – was buried, after being wounded he was nursed here and then buried in the military cemetery. We have visited many times and that is particularly poignant as his immediate family was unable to. Etaples was mentioned, but as a point Edith passed through rather than stationed at. What a compelling diary she kept, and we should all be so glad she did.
[Yes, Edie only mentions Etaples as one of the places she passes through on her way to postings elsewhere or when she was on an ambulance train.]
Hi there. I am Ethel Maude Rentzsch’s great, great niece. I have a lot of information and certificates from Ethel, given to me from my late father, Terrence Rentzsch. The family tree has been well recorded as we are all descendants from the original Sigismund Rentzsch, clockmaker to the King.
[Thanks Natalie. If you let me have some of the items you mention I’d love to add then to the rather minimal page I have for your great, great aunt – see http://www.edithappleton.org.uk/index/Ethel_Rentzsch.asp.]
A great book!! I could not put it down. As a Registered Midwife, I found it hugely interesting, what an amazing lady Edie was. I’m sure there were many men who survived their injuries due to the exemplary nursing skills that Edie possessed.
[Thanks for your comments, Elaine. It is wonderful to know that Edie’s example is valued so highly almost 100 years later. DR]
What a truly inspirational Lady! As an avid reader who is currently studying for my nursing degree, Edie’s diary was a fantastic read. I felt as if she was reading it to me. Thank you for putting this book together (A nurse at the front), I shall be passing it around to my class mates. It really makes me feel blessed to be where we are today. Thank you once again.
[Thanks for getting in touch and great to hear you are studying for a nursing degree. I am hoping to give a talk to the Royal College of Nurses some time this year so it’s lovely to hear that you find Edie’s story so inspirational. It has got a bit busy for us this week following our presentation at the Imperial War Museum in Manchester; see http://www.edithappleton.org.uk/index/Charles_Kerr.asp!]
I read your page with interest since my mother’s uncle Percy Mitchell bought la Guillette, one time home of Guy de Maupassant, in about 1920. His daughter, Leonie Mitchell, owned the house between 1944 and 1997, when she died. Leonie and her parents are buried in the churchyard. Percy Mitchell was Editor in Chief of the Paris edition of the New York Herald.
[Thanks for getting in touch and how interesting to hear about your connection with Etretat. I’m guessing you have been looking at the (rather long) page about Etretat on Edie’s website here: http://www.edithappleton.co.uk/Etretat/Alain_Millet.asp]
I’ve just finished reading her diaries that give such a humane insight into the appalling carnage of the 1WW. I am visiting Ypres, where my grandfather was gassed in 1918 next week and will understand how it was much better as a result of reading this personal account. (My grandfather was repatriated but died in November 1918).
United Kingdom, West Yorkshire
I am really enjoying reading Edie’s diaries and the book “A Nurse at the Front”. They are must reads for anyone who is interested in the First World War.
I came across the diaries as a result of delving into my wife’s family history. I discovered that her great grandfather was evacuated to the Hospital at Etretat prior to his return to UK. Reading the diaries gave me a clear picture of not only what our soldiers had experienced but also the medical attendants such as Edith. I was mesmerised by her notes and drawings and could not stop reading. She showed her care and emotions so clearly and gave a day to day picture of how people coped. So glad someone has taken the trouble to put everything online and available to all. Thank you.
My mother, Evelyn Birkin (89), is Ethel Hutchinson’s niece and remembers her well.
[Thanks so much for getting in touch Barbara. We already have a page on your great aunt, Staff Nurse Ethel Hutchinson (www.edithappleton.org.uk/index/Ethel_Hutchinson.asp) and I have now added the correct information you sent about her 7 siblings. She was clearly one of those nurses with whom Edie spent her time off while they were both working at Casualty Clearing Station No. 3 near Ypres in late 1915. DR]
Co Mayo, Ireland
My Aunt, Nurse Bridget Langan, Ballycastle, Co.Mayo , Ireland, was a member of the QAIMNS and served in the Somme area from 1915 to 1919. I found from her war records that Edith Appleton signed her Dispersal Form in June 1919. When I did an Internet search I found a gem: the Edith Appleton Diaries. Well done to Mr. Robinson and to Simon & Schuster for publishing them in book form and making them available to the world. The book should be essential reading for every student of history of WW1. Better than any historical text book, the diaries take us to the Front, page by page, day by day so vividly we can easily imagine being there.
Thanking you, Joe.
[It is very rewarding to have contacts from people who had relatives there alongside Edie. I’ve checked the index of the all the names Edie mentions (www.edithappleton.org.uk/index/names.asp) but sadly Bridget Langan isn’t mentioned. Good to know that they met when Bridget was on the way home. DR]
18 September 2012
Although Edie does not mention him in her diaries, it’s more than likely that she would have nursed an ancestor of my husband: Lieutenant Elphinstone D’Oyly Aplin who died at N° 3 Casualty Clearing Station on 13 May 1915. I attach a photo of Elphinstone for your information. He was only 22 when he died.
A fascinating read, a wonderful woman. Thanks to Dick for allowing me access.
[The period when Lieutenant Elphinstone d’Oyly Aplin died at N° 3 Casualty Clearing Station on is covered in Volume 1 of Edie’s diaries and it was certainly a frantically busy time for her as you will see when you read the diaries. I’d like to think that perhaps Edie did care for him. So glad you got in touch, Heather. DR]
25 June 2012
I am so glad that the book has been published. I was the first person to contact Dick Robinson regarding a relative. I too spent many years in the nursing profession.
Edith nursed my Great Grandad, James Edward Partlin. There may be some relatives out there, who are not aware of the book. You may like to read regarding James: page 241 (August 19th) and pages 243-4 (August 22nd). Also at the end of page 244 is a note from the newspaper written on the 18 September 1918.
Best wishes for those trying to trace descendants.
[Thanks for getting in touch again, Karen. The full original diary entries about Sgt Partlin are in volume four on the website. See entries for 19 and 22 August on this page www.edithappleton.org.uk/Vol4/html/Vol4Text.asp. I have also done a separate page about him here: www.edithappleton.org.uk/Vol4/JamesPartlin/James_Partlin.asp. DR]
12 March 2012
Finding the extract from Edie’s diaries about my great, great uncle, Private Charles Kerr, was very moving. It was touching to learn that he was lovingly cared for by Edie.
I stumbled across your web site by pure chance. I was ‘googling’ addresses that I have found on census records and WW1 records. When I searched for Cedar Street, which is where Charles lived, a WW1 forum came up with link to your web site. I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw a reference to Charles. I double checked my notes, and the dates tallied, so it must be the same person. A fantastic find!
Unfortunately I do not have a photo of Charles. I have a photograph of his platoon before they left for France, but I have no idea which soldier he is. I have attached a copy of the photo and the list of soldiers who are on the photograph.
I have discovered that Charles served with the 2nd City Battalion, later designated the 17th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. They were also known as the Manchester Pals.
Thanks again for the link. The work you and your family have done is extremely impressive and I cannot thank you enough.
[Wonderful to make contact with you, Nicola. You are the fifth descendant of someone named by Edie in the diaries who has contacted me. I have now done a page on Private Charles Kerr here: http://www.edithappleton.org.uk/index/Charles_Kerr.asp DR]
Roger W Harris
27 February 2012 08:27
The very Best wishes for your Book launch. You have done a marvellous job bringing Edith’s experiences to the people’s attention. I know my Father was eternally grateful to the likes of her for his care during WW1 when he was badly wounded in France. Yours Sincerely, Roger.
January 24 2010
I have just heard that the wonderful diaries of Edith Appleton are about to be published – in early March I believe. So we will be able to read them ourselves very soon! Am thrilled. So many people I know have been asking about the book, having looked at your special website. At last all your work has come to fruition; you must be very pleased.
Congratulations on having created such a special website – and enabled, now, a book to be published. I think that women (and men) all over the world are likely to be interested in it. I’ll be looking out for the reviews soon. Well done!
name: Ann Etheridge
Date: November 13, 2011
I own a letter concerning the death of Nursing Sister Jessie Hume Congleton. You can read it here with associated research: http://www.flickr.com/photos/60861613@N00/6337546513/in/photostream. All the best…
[Many thanks for that. I have added it to the page on Jessie Congleton – click here to view it. DR]
name: Sue Hansard
country: England ,Staffordshire
Date: November 04, 2011
Ethel Maud Hansard was my husband’s great great aunt. I am researching the Hansard tree and only know that she nursed at St Bart’s and was mentioned in dispatches. Would love to find out more and see a photo of her if such exists, especially as I am a nurse too. No living family members know about Ethel Maud.
[Good to hear from you. It is always so amazing to make contact with descendants of people with whom Edie, my great aunt, worked. I particularly liked Edie’s account of how she turned a gown of Ethel’s into a (rather ill-fitting) bathing costume for herself! (see 7 July 1918) DR]
name: Michael Cox
Date: October 19, 2011
I have one of Ellen Baldry’s scrapbooks complete with dog tag and some very interesting images taken in France including with Matron in Chief, Dame Maud McCarthy. I collect nurses albums/diaries from both wars and was interested to see who she worked with.
[Great to hear from you Mike about Matron Baldry (see the page on her here). We have now spoken and I look forward to seeing some of the material you have. DR]
name: E Maureen Defty and Elizabeth Maxey Varley
country: Co. Durham ,England
Date: September 10, 2011
We are Kate Maxey‘s great nieces, along with 14 other cousins. We have a good deal of information about Auntie Kate, who lived in Muswell Hill, London with her niece Margaret Defty, who taught at Skinner’s Company school until her retirement. They spent all the school holidays with me (Elizabeth), my parents and grandmother Mary-Jane Defty.
Kate would not speak about her experiences in the two wars to us, but confided in our GP when at the age of 91 she broke her arm. She obviously thought that, being a ‘medical man’ he would understand.
We are the grand-daughters of Mary Jane Maxey, Kate’s half-sister. Her half-brother John Jewitt Maxey emigrated to New Zealand. Most of his family are still there although some are back England. Her other sisters didn’t have any family.
Maureen Defty and Elizabeth Varley
[Wonderful to hear from you both as Kate was clearly one of Edie’s closest friends and the person with whom she spent many happy off-duty hours walking and exploring near Etretat and collecting flowers for their wards. How amazing that our families should be reconnected almost 100 years later! Full info about Kate Maxey here. DR]
name: Helen Lewis
Date: September 10, 2011
I have just returned from France to visit the grave of my great uncle, Bertram Lewis, who is buried at Mount Huon in Le Treport. Later on we visited the Historial museum at Peronne (http://en.historial.org/) and they had several copies of the book about Le Treport by the 2 French historians listed on your website. You may like to post this information so that others can contact the museum – they have an online bookshop but the Le Treport book is not listed so it would be necessary to contact them directly. The book was 23 euros.
[Thanks for this information, Helen. I have added the information about the book to this page: http://www.edithappleton.org.uk/Vol4/LeTreport/HotelTrianon.asp. DR]
Date: July 08, 2011
I have just been listening to BBC4 extracts from your great Aunt Edie’s diaries and was touched by their content. Wanting to know more, I typed in her name for a search and was delighted to come up with your website. The thing that struck me the most was that Edie did not let the overwhelming and relentless horror blunt her senses and feelings, to the great benefit of those wounded soldiers she ministered to. To her great credit, she managed to maintain her humanity in the face of total barbarism.
Thank you for keeping her memory alive and good luck with the book.
name: Sue Pallett
Date: July 06, 2011
I really enjoyed hearing Edie’s diary extracts on BBC radio 4 and I’m really pleased to hear that a book will be published in 2012. I very much hope that an unabridged audio version will also become available at the same time.
[Sue, an audio book is certainly being discussed but there are no firm plans just yet. Certainly we have heard from a number of blind and visually impaired people that they would welcome an audio version of the diaries. DR]
name: Anne Wickham
country: England Devon
Date: July 03, 2011
I would like to know if Albert Edward Schafer is mentioned in these diaries as he died in Etretat and is buried in the extension to the churchyard in Etretat. His father was German but he was a baker who used to go for a shave at the barber’s after work and had insults from people for having a German name so he enlisted for England and he died aged 43 amongst all the 19 year old soldiers. He was born on 10th August 1874 and he died November 1917.
[Anne, I have checked for Albert Edward Schafer’s name but he is not mentioned in Edie’s diaries, I’m afraid. We are preparing a list of all the names of those mentioned which includes a great many nurses and medical colleagues of Edie but also quite a number of her patients, some of whom died in her care. More information here. DR]
Date: July 03, 2011
So pleased to hear the series being repeated on radio 4.I am a nurse who trained in the 1980’s at Bart’s hospital London and it is so inspiring to hear about such a dedicated and kind woman nursing during the war. Can’t wait for the book next year. Thank you for sharing Edie’s diaries.
name: Miss Jennifer Smith
country: Nottinghamshire UK
Date: July 03, 2011
I would be pleased to have information when the Simon & Schuster book ” A Nurse at the Front” is published in order to buy a copy. I am an elderly lady who has only recently read Vera Brittain’s “Testament of Youth” and have discovered Edith Appleton’s writings via the 3 episodes now repeated on the BBC. I would like to follow up the readings.
I am finding this website most helpful in giving meaning to the reality of the Great War. Thank you.
name: Philipa Coughlan
Date: June 28, 2011
What a lovely, interesting and observant woman your Auntie Edie was! Really enjoyed hearing all about her and can’t wait for the book – we will definitely choose it for the Parliamentary Book Club!
name: Sue Burden
Date: June 26, 2011
A wonderful site. A joy to read the diaries. Thank you for sharing them.
May Edie rest in peace.
name: Angela Burdick
Date: May 25, 2011
I am glad to hear of this forthcoming publication. I am visiting Etretat at the beginning of July and hope to visit places where my grandfather was tended by nurses such as Edith Appleton. His own wife was a nurse.
Good luck with the publication and keeping alive the memory of this gallant woman.
country: Canada, Quebec
Date: December 10, 2010
This is riveting! Are the diaries available in book form anywhere?
Date: November 14, 2010
I hope you will find a publisher for your book soon, maybe by adding even the work from Mr. Alain Millet. From what he writes, all the information he has collected could be used to enrich the diaries, by making, for example, an ‘annotated’ version.
Etretat can still bring to mind those years, and it would be wonderful to be able to celebrate the memory of those who spent such an important part of their life there.
name: Barry Godden
Date: September 12, 2010
What a marvellous record of a terrible period in British history that this diary makes. I wonder what Edith would have said if she were to have known that one day I would be sitting at home in Wales reading her diary, just as she had written it. Her words bring the atmosphere of the hospital alive.
What a terrible waste of life WW1 was – and, with the benefit of hindsight, for what?
PS: I found the web site purely by accident.
name: Robin Cochrane
Date: August 23, 2010
I will shortly be visiting Ypres where my great grandfather was killed in 1917 so I was interested when Dick Robinson (who lives in the same village) suggested I look at the Edie Appleton website. I’ve been fascinated – the diaries are depressingly factual about the sights and sounds of the horrific war yet Edie was still able to go walking and shopping, and enthuse about the countryside. It’s remarkable that anyone could stay sane when exposed to such appalling conditions for so long. I shall certainly be thinking of Edie as well as my great grandfather during my visit. Thank you Dick for giving me the chance to read about a remarkable woman.
We are living history society that are dedicated to perpetuate the memory of all men and women who served and fought in ww1. We have a field dressing station/casualty clearing station with casualty simulation. We have found these diaries invaluable in our research. The nurses in the society have learnt so much. Many many thanks for this site.
Graham Evans hon sec Irish Great War Society.
country: United Kingdom of Hebdonia
Date: December 05, 2009
Took me a while, but finally listened to the third episode thanks to this wonderful website. I’ve enjoyed them immensely. They are at times funny, poignant, and very enlightening about what is largely an unknown time. Well done to all involved, and I hope these diaries find a publisher to do them the service they deserve.
I very much enjoyed listening to the audio of the BBC broadcasts. Ever since I read and watched Testament to Youth, by Vera Britain, one can come closer to a picture of The Great War. The war to end all wars! All branches of my family lost members in WWI, one cousin dying a week after the war ended. He’s buried in Sible Hedingham church yard in Essex. And my great grandfather ill for four years after the war from gas poisoning, until he died. Yes I would like to see Edie’s diaries as a book.
name: Sally Weeks
country: Devon England
Date: November 27, 2009
I very much enjoyed the Radio 4 readings from Edith Appleton’s diary and was hoping to purchase them for my mother for Christmas.
Her mother, my grandmother, was an army nurse during WW1 and was in northern France like Ms Appleton (indeed I think their service would have been very similar) and subsequently she served in India. My grandmother talked very little about her work and my mother would love to learn more about the lives of the nurses at that time.
Is it possible to get a hard copy of the diaries and/or is there any particular route you would suggest for us as a followup?
Many thanks for your help, Sally Weeks
[You don’t say which branch of nursing your grandmother was in, Sally. There are lots of helpful websites about now; try googling british nurses ww1. Here are a few I’ve found helpful:
- Two by Sue Light: http://www.scarletfinders.co.uk/ and http://greatwarnurses.blogspot.com/
Date: November 27, 2009
I have been doing family history research and discovered that a Great, Grand Uncle, Richard, died from wounds in WW1. He is buried at Bailleul and surely must have been in one of the CCS’s at Bailleul before he died. Otherwise his record would say Killed in Action. I came across Edith’s diary of her time at Bailleul and she does refer to the death of a patient on the same day Richard died. Perhaps it was him.
Many thanks for sharing this diary on the internet. I believe that Edith’s diary is the real history that ought to be taught in schools. What happens at a political and military level is only one aspect of our history. Edith brings it all to life and shows the real consequences. I look forward to reading the entire diary in more depth. Best Wishes, Clare
[It is always particularly poignant when I hear from someone whose relative was cared for by Edie, as perhaps was your relative, Richard. In November 2008 I was contacted by the great grand-daughter of a Sergeant who died in Edie’s care and whose name she mentioned. More information here: http://www.edithappleton.co.uk/Vol4/JamesPartlin/James_Partlin.asp. You’ll see that we met earlier this year. DR]
name: Lynley Povey
country: New Zealand
Date: November 22, 2009
Hello and thank you for making this diary available. I would love to read this in book form one day. Congratulations on your efforts in making the diary available for us all to read. You are right, women’s stories are often harder to come by, and nurses in many ways saw the worst of the war. I arrived here via your link in your comment on http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1568761/Soldiers-diary-of-the-First-World-War.html. I am a little surprised the flu epidemic does not appear to have been a factor, but I will download and read the whole diary. Maybe I missed it or perhaps it is in the missing sections. Keep up your search! Thanks . Lynley
[Thanks for mentioning where you came across Edie’s website; I’m always intrigued to know how people spotted it.
You mention the flu epidemic. Edie does refer to it Here’s a extract from 30 June 1918 (in Volume 4): “There is a very virulent form of influenza spreading like wild fire among the hosps & our hospital is nearly full up with them – Temperatures anything up to 104° or 105°. The good thing is, it is usually over in a week – but if everyone is going to get it! We shall have a long time with it.” She makes a number of other references to the flu, including wondering if she herself had it. I guess, after 4 years of nursing the sick, wounded and dying, most of the nurses had built up strong immune systems but not, perhaps, strong enough to withstand the flu virus. I was reading about it just now on Wikipedia and saw the astonishing statistic that “It is estimated that anywhere from 50 to 100 million people were killed worldwide which is from three to seven times the casualties of the First World War (15 million).” DR]
name: William Horwood
Date: November 21, 2009
So interested to read your information about 9 Golden Street. I lived next door from 1954 to 1963 and my book The Boy With No Shoes is all about life there and in the North End of Deal in that period. The only occupant of No 9 I remember – and that very well indeed – was Mrs Simms and her daughter Peggy who occupied the ground floor at the back and who from time to time I went in to help – she got locked out once and I had to climb over our wall to be able to let her in. Maybe you’d like a copy of my memoir? Do get in touch! William Horwood
[William – I have tried emailing you on the address you gave but it has bounced back. I wanted to respond to the comments you made. Please write in the Visitor’s Book again with an alternative email address. DR]
name: Tony Mullord
country: England Essex
Date: November 19, 2009
My father was posted to No 2 Casualty Clearing Station at Bailleul in September 1915, which is about the same time as Edith at the No 3 CCS. I am very pleased to have more idea of the town and particularly of military operations in the area at that time and sources of the casualties – thanks to her diaries!
name: Lucinda Davis
Date: November 16, 2009
Hi. My mother-in-law has asked for a copy of Edith Appleton’s Diaries, having heard them on Radio 4. I told my mother in law this morning there was no book yet and she was most disappointed and also hoped very much that you succeed in finding a publisher. If you do succeed I hope you will be able to let me know about it.
name: Martyn Bassey
Date: November 15, 2009
Came across this programme quite by chance and i thought it was wonderful. The voices of the women left behind and the nurses in France and Belgium are seldom heard. Really hope Edith’s diaries are published. Many thanks to you and the BBC.
name: Nicky Whiting
country: UK, Suffolk
Date: November 15, 2009
Hi. I heard some of the readings on Radio 4. Are Edith’s diaries published as books? If so, where can I get them? Thanks
name: Judy Kay
Date: November 15, 2009
Is it possible to buy a book of the diaries? The broadcast extracts were very good, and I’ve read scraps from the pages on the web, using my laptop in bed, but would welcome the opportunity to “read the book”.
And, yes, the Good Friday buns are still distributed at the Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great – next door to the hospital and St Bartholomew the Less!
[Thanks for the tip about the buns to which Edie refers on August 22 1918 in Volume 4. DR]
name: Lucinda Hallan
Date: November 14, 2009
I stumbled on the BBC programmes covering Edie’s diary on iPlayer and have just enjoyed listening to all three of them back-to-back.
What stood out for me most was her great humanity and the immediacy of her voice. Reaching out to us over a century’s divide, she pulls us into the middle of her world – and her unflinching eye shows us everything: the tragic, the mundane and the ridiculous.
Thank you for making such a vivid and remarkable document available – and I do hope you find a publisher soon. Edie definitely deserves it!
[Thanks so much for writing in the Visitors Book, Lucinda. Your comments have really summed up so well what makes Edie’s so powerful and relevant to us nearly 100 years later. DR]
name: Margaret Vick
Date: November 13, 2009
I only managed to catch part of one of the programmes as I was driving to work but I will enjoy reading the diaries via the website – however I would really like to see them in print – remember Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady – I feel sure these would be just as popular. One thing I would like to ask is that I thought I heard she took her lace pillow to sit beside a patient – is that so – was she a lacemaker?
Keep trying for a publisher – and good luck
[Yes, Edie did make lace, although I’m sure she would be quick to say she was just a beginner. There are lots of references in the diaries to lacemaking, particularly in Volume Two Part One (see 5 Sept 1915 for a sketch of her lace) and in Volume Two Part Two (sketch again on 28 January 1916). DR]
name: Edna Branthwaite
country: England, Cumbria
Date: November 13, 2009
I only managed to hear the last part of Edith’s Diaries on my car radio as I was driving home from Cockermouth. I was fascinated by it and hope the diaries are going to be published in book form
Date: November 12, 2009
Just to say thank you so much for the chance to hear the writings of Edith on the radio. I must admit it did make me cry it was so moving. She must have been a lovely and caring person, I have been a historian for many years (British involvement Zulu wars 1879), so this was just up my street. A VERY BIG THANK YOU. If you get her letters published please let me know. I would be so pleased to buy her book,
name: Paul Burns
Date: November 12, 2009
Caught the Radio 4 broadcast (12 November) by chance. Wonderful to hear the views and insights of a one of the remarkable women who nursed during the Great War. Thanks for the website and to the BBC for its excellent choice and treatment.
name: Jackie Chapman
Date: November 11, 2009
Hello, I stumbled across this site by accident, after listening to Radio 4 this afternoon. Will you be publishing the diaries by any chance? Just so, so moving and interesting. Thank you, best wishes Jackie
name: John Thwaite
country: United Kingdom
Date: November 11, 2009
I happened to come across the readings of Edie’s diaries on Tuesday the 10th Nov. and was really touched by the experiences that Edith went through, I would love to have a copy of the diaries and hope one day a publisher will see sense and produce these wonderful memories of such a special, brave and kind person. It is people like Edith that make me proud to be English, she and all other nurses and people who served in the First World War should especially be remembered at this time. God Bless
name: Tom Ferrusi
Date: November 11, 2009
Tom here in NY Thanks for sharing all this. It’s great to know that some history hasn’t been forgotten. There are so many little known stories such as this, that the importance to bring it to light grows stronger with each passing year. I am currently retired from military service. The gray overcast sky fits the solemnity of today’s Armistice & Remembrance Day God Bless…
name: Meriel Bottle
country: United Kingdom
Date: November 11, 2009
I have just listened to the second extract of Edith’s diaries broadcast on BBC radio 4. I was deeply moved by her words and her description of caring for the wounded and dying. Her warmth and humanity shone out. I do hope you find a publisher.
name: Sara Robinson
Date: November 11, 2009
Rosa, Paul and I (Edie’s great niece) listened last night to the first radio extract of her diaries. We turned the lights down low and could almost imagine the relentless sounds of the bombing and artillery through her thoughts. We found it very moving; almost too difficult to be transported into her world, one so very different from our own.
The story of the Matron laughing hysterically upon hearing that officers are screwed down, the rest are nailed down, is the one that stays with me most. The absurdity of it all. The odd little (and very British) procedures some one ordered when faced with uncontrollable circumstances. Still needing a sense of hierarchy even then. This is wonderful stuff and I feel proud to be linked to Edie and her selflessness.
name: Pam Woodward
Date: November 10, 2009
My paternal grandfather was with the Royal Field Artillery in Ypres in 1915. He was killed there in August of that year, he had been married only 6 months and left my grandmother expecting their child who was born in the November. Reading Edith’s diaries which were written at the time he was there is very moving and terribly sad.
[Thanks for listening to the first programme today, Pam, and for getting in touch. How tragic about your grandfather and leaving a wife and child. So many families must have had to struggle in ways we can hardly imagine.
One of the most poignant aspects of setting up the website has been having contact from people who lost relatives. I don’t know if you have seen it, but this page – http://www.edithappleton.org.uk/Vol4/JamesPartlin/James_Partlin.asp – records the contact I had from the great granddaughter of a man Edie mentions by name and whom she nursed until he died.
Again, thank you for getting in touch. I am just so glad to be able to share with others the perspective of my great aunt, a nurse who did her best to look after all those men. It doesn’t feel like almost 100 years ago, does it. DR]
name: John Cahill
country: london england
Date: November 10, 2009
Hello I was wondering if the diaries written by Edith have been put into print , and if so how can I obtain one?
[Thanks for listening to the first programme today, John. We are still trying to get a publisher interested. Maybe now the readings are going out one will be keen and get in touch with us!
PS. If you are a publisher out there reading this, please contact me via the Visitors Book! Dick Robinson]
name: Lisa Robinson
Date: November 05, 2009
DO LISTEN, EVERYONE! – to the extracts of Edie’s amazing diaries next wk – on 10th, 11th and 12th November!
They promise to be so poignant – and yet wonderful. They will really bring to life moments that Edie wanted us to know at the time – and we will be able to feel a bit more of what she – and so many others – went through during that terrible, terrible war. They will also illustrate so vividly little moments of beauty or bliss that even during such dark times, were noticed and valued so greatly, by this remarkable lady.
name: Martin Wagner
country: United States + Barbour County
Date: November 03, 2009
What a fantastic effort to keep Edie’s writings and memory alive….I find it unbelievable.
I happened upon your pages while researching another lady who was with the BRCS and QAIMNS, and her service and stations almost run parallel to Edie’s.
I am in the process of writing a biography of my lady based solely on her records from birth to her death in 1952, and now am compelled to read every word of the 4 volumes in order to get a better feeling of what my lady went through.
A quick glance at my writings to date show many places where their paths may have crossed during the war, even up to their dates of demobilzation.
Thank you for your superb effort.
[Thanks Martin. If you have any information about your lady which will help to illuminate Edie’s writings I would be very happy to add it in – as appropriate. What was her name? Maybe Edie mentions her somewhere. DR]
name: Brian Dunlop
Date: October 08, 2009
I was in Etretat last weekend and it reminded me that I had some old Photo Albums with pictures of my Great Aunt who was stationed in Etretat N°1 General Hospital in 1914. Her family name was Barrett from Dublin, but sadly, I cannot find out her first name. I have no information on how long she stayed but from the dates on the photos it would appear if she was there on the Hospital Ship Asturias in August 1914, before moving on to Etretat. Who knows if she stayed long enough to know Edith? Edith does mention an Irish girl winning some parlour games in her diary. In any case there is a photo of “Col” Martyn, whom Edith mentions announcing “that he wished to visit her family in England”. There is also a very faded photo of Matron Hodgins, whom the Matron in Chief Maud McCarthy mentiones very favorably in her diaries.
I include a link to the photos.
[Great photos. Thanks. I’ve added a page, including some of them, here: http://www.edithappleton.org.uk/Etretat/Dunlop/Barrett.asp. DR]
name: David Willis
Date: September 09, 2009
My mother has just told me that my Grandfather was in No 3 hospital, Le Treport in 1917. He was bombed from an aircraft near Ypres in 1917. My mother “has fotos”! My grandmother visited Grandad at No 3 ( from the Bristol area) as he wasn’t expected to live! I am so sorry that I will miss the November exhibition.
Just noticed…..it is the anniversary of your birthday. I imagine there were many happy days here at Buddlebrook.
[Note: Buddlebrook was the Appleton family home from 1923. Click here to see some photos of the house…and its Appleton occupants.]
name: Deanna Duff
country: Ontario Canada
Date: December 03, 2008
Thank you so very kindly for your hard work and generosity in bringing Edith’s fascinating diary to the public. Edith’s diary with its daily entries that switched between the horrors of war and her adventures travelling the French countryside contributed more information about World War 1 and war nurses in particular, than any other material I have encountered. Due to her faithful diary keeping, I learned much more than just the “big events” of the War, but rather I gained a feel for what the time period would have been like to experience personally. I am very interested in the underreported roles played in war. My great-grandfather was a Canadian Presbyterian Chaplain during the Great War, who served in France and locating information on the role of Chaplains is challenging and limited to a small number of sources. I would love to know what he or the other padres experienced during the War. Tragically, letters written home, while he was in the service were destroyed by a well-meaning, but very misguided aunt of mine. She came upon them in the proverbial trunk in the attic and found them too sad and musty to keep.
We all are very fortunate that your great-aunt’s diary came to light and that you have graciously shared it with us. Edith’s diary is priceless in the contribution it has made to the information available about this important role in the War.
[Thanks for those comments, Deanna. Anyone interested in the role of Canadian nurses in particular should see the diaries of Alice Isaacson. They have much in common with Edie’s diaries but the real treasure is her wonderful and comprehensive photograph album. DR]
name: Karen Hrabec
Date: November 21, 2008
I have been doing some family research and came across Edith Appleton diaries. In Volume 4 (21 June to 27th December 1918) August 22. 1918 she quotes she had been nursing a spine case who died on the 21 August. Also says his wife was with him. This is my great grandma May and great grandfather Sgt James Partlin. She also stated that all of Accrington would know.
I have the paper cutting from this event stating my grandfather had died. Accrington Observer and Times September 1918. It shows a photo of him. But I do not have a photo of my great grandma, so will never know what she looked like. Karen
name: Richard Feltham
Date: November 13, 2008
Great to see a photo of my grandfather – Guy.
name: Jayne Hyslop
country: Ontario Canada
Date: November 12, 2008
Every family has a thread back to the Great War, whether it be through a nursing sister like Edie or a young soldier. Thankfully diaries, biographies, published stories and blogs allow us to read first hand the accounts of those tragic days and the heroic actions of many. The BBC should be commended for a marvellous interview, beautifully presented. Well done Dick, Edie would be proud.
name: Jill Stainforth
country: Victoria BC Canada
Date: November 11, 2008
This morning my mother, Anne Stainforth (91) and I listened to Aunt Edie’s diaries online. Edie was my mum’s favourite Aunt and for the 50 years they knew one another, Edie’s work in Belgium and France was never mentioned. What a generation! It has been a privilege for my brother, Piers, and me to work with Dick on these diaries and to enter Edie’s life through them. Day after day we would transcribe the pages and be transported back to the grisly world of a nurse in that hellish war: what shone through was Edie’s resilience, calm, capability and sparkle. Thank you Edie – getting reacquainted was lovely.
name: Roger W Harris
country: Kent, England
Date: November 11, 2008
You are to be congratulated and should feel really proud to have worked so hard perpetrating the memories of your Aunts heroic W.W.1. service and sharing her life story.
My father was Cas-evacced twice from France to England between 1915 and 1918. The first time with severe Shrapnel wounds when his No.s 1 & 2 loaders were killed by a shell that devasted his Lewis Gun Pit, and the second time after a bullet in the chest, returning twice to fight again thanks to the selfless attention to duty of the likes of Edith and her comrades. He was one of the lucky ones that survived the horrors which he never forgot, living until 1986 when he died at 90. He always spoke so highly of the care he received from nursing staff. Who knows he may well have been tended by Edith. You have my eternal thanks for sharing all the Diaries with the whole World, enlightening and drawing attention to what has been a neglected area of service for so many years.
Yours Gratefully and very Sincerely,
name: Lisa Robinson
country: Gloucestershire, UK
Date: November 11, 2008
Having been in the background (mostly!) of all the immense amount of groundwork and loving, painstaking attention to minute detail over so many months, of Edie’s diaries, it has become increasingly clear (as the 11th day of the 90th year approached), just what an unimagineable impact this war – and Edie’s diaries – have had, still have and will continue to have – on so many different people who have been touched in one way or another by it, over so many years. I am proud, too, to be associated (if only by marriage) with Edie’s diaries – and I hope very much that they become more widely known and their impact actually increases in unexpected ways – and that one day we will REALLY be able to say that Peace reigns in the world and never again will such a terrible, terrible loss of life in war happen.
name: jenny turner
country: kent england
Date: November 11, 2008
Thank you for sharing this very special diary of your Aunt’s. I heard the radio 4 programme first then read it here. An incredible insight into her life and that of others with her. I am so moved. Both my Grandfathers were soldiers in WW1 and both my parents too in WW2. I have sent this on to my two young daughters and asked them to share it with my grandchildren. We must not forget. Ever. Do hope the missing pages turn up.
country: Northern Ireland
Date: November 11, 2008
I haven’t yet heard the programme – looking forward to it !
I understand you are looking for missing pages . Have you asked on “The Great War Forum”. If you aren’t already a member there are many experts and enthusiasts. My great uncle died from meningitis at a casualty clearing station near Puchevillers and an elderly Frenchwoman was able to point out where the tents had stood. Thank you for sharing this diary .
name: Sam Robinson
country: UK Bristol
Date: November 11, 2008
How wonderful to hear excerpts from the diaries brought to life on Radio 4. I shut my eyes and turned up the volume and it all felt goose-bumpingly real. As a distant relative (great great nephew) of Edie, I look forward to learning how the airtime on Making History this afternoon will bring a new audience to the diaries. The dedication and hard work that my Dad and others have put into this website is deserving of a wide and varied audience. And on the 11th day of the 11th month, my thoughts go to all those who are in any way affected by war. Here’s to Peace.
name: Adrian Beatty
country: Florida, USA
Date: November 11, 2008
I enjoyed the BBCR4 broadcast of Making History which included the fascinating article about Edie. You must be complimented on bringing these diaries to the attention of the public. Thank you so much for telling us about your great aunt. You said towards the end of the broadcast that she would have been “astonished” that you had taken the trouble to go through her diaries. I think she would also be immensely proud.
name: Bea Tilbrook
country: Wiltshire UK
Date: November 11, 2008
It’s wonderful to read these diaries and hear the authentic voice of someone who was there. My great uncle died in a Casualty Clearing Station near Ypres in September 1917, the one the soldiers called Mendinghem. Glad to see some of that black humour is echoed by Edith at times. They must have needed it to survive. Thank you to Edith and all the others who volunteered to work in such a dreadful situation, well beyond our imagining.
[Bea. Your comment prompted me to look up ‘Mendinghem’ and I came across this explanation here: http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t67134.html. It seems your comment about black humour is well founded! DR]
name: Sara Robinson
country: UK West Yorkshire
Date: November 10, 2008
Looking forward to hearing my great great Aunt Edie’s remarkable story come to life on BBC radio 4 tomorrow.