WW1 Nursing Scrapbook

Molly Evans‘s nursing scrapbook covers the period 1914 to 1920. This includes a large number of photos, maps and newspaper articles of the period. It also contains letters, poems and testimonials of patients – British, Canadian and Belgian.

A larger number of the items have been scanned and have recently been added to this site. More photos are still to be added.

Molly Evans's medals (from left): the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal, the Victory Medal (all three are British WW1 campaign medals), the Defence Medal (British WW2 campaign medal) and Croix de guerre 1914–1918 (French WW1 campaign medal)

Molly Evans’s medals (from left): the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal, the Victory Medal (all three are British WW1 campaign medals), the Defence Medal (British WW2 campaign medal) and Croix de guerre 1914–1918 (French WW1 campaign medal)

The first section covers a time at Studley Court Hospital, Stourbridge, Sep 1914 to Jan 1915. This was also where Mary Downing, her neighbour, started out in her wartime nursing career. Whilst Mary moved to other hospitals in the UK and ended up in Ilkeston in Derbyshire, Molly decided to go to France with the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD).

The scrapbook next records her time at No 2 General Hospital, le Havre in 1915-1916. There is a fine sketch of the hospital in which Molly worked. The building is actually the ‘Palais’ built for the Sailing Regatta at the Olympics of 1900. It was reused for the Olympics in 1924 but destroyed by fire in 1942.

In late 1916 Molly resigned her post to attend to her ailing mother back in The Lawn, Hagley. Her brother, Wilmot Evans had been killed, missing in action, on 1 July 1916 and Florence Evans, already in poor health, never seems to have recovered from the loss.

Things at home in Hagley seem to have improved enough by Spring 1917 for her to return to nursing. Everything would indicate that she had no chance to return to her hospital in Le Havre, who had initially refused her resignation back in November 1916. After a brief episode at the First General Western Hospital in Birkenhead in the summer of 1917, she soon returned to France on her second tour of duty and joined the Friends’ Ambulance Unit, based in Malo-les-Bains in Dunkirk. Here she worked in the Queen Alexanandra Hospital alongside, amongst others, Rachel Wilson, who later married Paul Cadbury, head of the famous Quaker chocolate maker’s family. Another colleague was Elizabeth Hardy, the daughter of Rev Theodore Bailey Hardy VC.

The Dunkirk section is perhaps the most interesting. Here she was close to the front line and the town was regularly shelled. There are newspaper reports about the sinking of a battleship in the harbour during the Zeebrugge Raid of April 1918 and a long narrative account written by Molly in Dec 1918, shortly after the armistice, of her trip to Ypres, ‘No-mans-land’, where she saw for herself the front lines.

From January to Mar 1919 she would appear to have been in Rouen