Edith Francis, VAD
Edith Francis, my maternal great aunt, was Matron of Bishop Auckland Hospital, County Durham, at the outbreak of WWI. When it became clear that further hospitals would be needed for the huge numbers of casualties being shipped back to Britain, many of the Big Houses were given over to become Hospitals, amongst which was the home of the Eden family at nearby Windlestone Hall, Rushyford. She was given the job of being Matron of this facility as well, and my mother could remember as a young girl, going from their vicarage home at Shildon to the hospital with her siblings to have tea with the inmates - who were all dressed in blue pyjamas with white lapels, and wearing red ties - and to help entertain them with music, recitations, poetry and playlets. She once sat at tea between two patients, each of whom had lost the arm nearest to her, so she had a busy time passing sandwiches, sugar, salt and pepper etc to them !
Sorry. I know only what was passed on to me by my Mother who died in 2007 aged 98. her memory was clear and accurate right to the very end, so I have no reason to doubt the anecdotal evidence. "Aunty Edie" never married and I have no idea what happened to her effects when she died, but some years ago a friend looked at County Durham Records on my behalf and jotted down some notes about Edith Francis which tended to confirm Mum's memories. I have yet to lay my hands on those notes, but when I do, I'll be back in contact.
P J Tipton commented
IWM has appointed a small number of volunteers to create new #LifeStories for the suggestions made on this forum. I have been assigned to create one for Edith Francis. In order to create the #LifeStory I need to find a some definitive archival evidence. You say she was a VAD but she does not have a 'pink card' held by the British Red Cross. However if she was the Matron of two Auxiliary Military Hospitals she is much more likely to have been a State Registered Nurse, but I cannot find any record of her appointment as Matron of either Bishop Auckland or Windlestone hospitals. So I was hoping you might have some documentary evidence you could scan and then send me a copy. You can make initial contact with me via the #LivesMail button on my public profile https://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/profile/6648. I liked your teaparty anecdote. That should definitely go onto the #LifeStory when we have created it.
P J Tipton. IWM Volunteer