June 2014 updates
Read our Edie presentation - in French! As delivered in Strasbourg
on 8 June 2014. It's here.
April 2014 updates
The Daily Telegraph published an article on Saturday 5 April which
included a quote from Sarah Phelps, the writer of the BBC's The Crimson
Field, confirming that Edie's diaries had been a useful source for her.
You can read the article here. In case that link expires, here's the
sentence in question:
'Phelps found a vivid
depiction of the nurses’ work in the diaries of Sister Edith Appleton:
“She was quite a girl. She describes having to sit with men who are
dying from injuries, where there’s absolutely nothing you can do about
it. One of the things that just made me shiver was Edith sitting next to
the bed of a patient who took five days to die from an appalling head
injury and her description of listening to him try to breathe through
the grey matter dripping through the back of his throat.”'
February 2014 update
26 February. BBC
Radio Kent have just published a lovely 17 minute piece about Edie's
family home in Deal: 9 Golden Street, known to the family as Sea Valley
More information here.
January 2014 updates
A delightful new photo of Edie has just been unearthed in New
Zealand. Our daughter, Sara, was there on holiday with her family and
visited Shirley Gudex, one of Edie's nieces. Shirley's father was
Edie's brother, Guy. They were looking through a photo album and
found this sweet photo. It is probably dated early 1918 but we
aren't sure about this. Here it is below:
Click on the image to enlarge.
There's a rather special aspect to this new
fourth volume of Edie's diaries she writes often about hoping to
meet up with her youngest brother, Taff, who is serving with New Zealand
forces. I have to admit that I have long been hoping to get a
better picture of Edie in her uniform and now is the time, perhaps, to
come clean about the picture at the top left of
the home page
on this website. While the one on the right (Edie in her comfy-looking,
if not very flattering, winter jacket) in entirely genuine, the one of
her in uniform is actually Edie's face superimposed on the uniform of
another nurse. Apologies for that. So, it is especially nice
to have the recently discovered photo above and I do feel a bit as Edie
must have on finally making contact with Taff!
‘First world war centenary
is a year to honour the dead but not to glorify’ -
a most impressive article by Michael Morpurgo in The Guardian
newspaper on Wednesday 1 January 2014.
response I wrote
a letter which was published later that day:
must not forget to honour the women of the Great War
Michael’s article has also provoked
some lively comments.
September 2013 update
9 September; Great
on her blog by Sue Light expressing her views of
the oft-quoted 'bravery' of 'hoeroic' and 'angelic' nurses who served in
France and elsewhere in WW1. Of course, we admire those women -
particularly if we knew them - who went to be alongside their brothers,
fathers, husbands, friends in that terrible war and we want to
acknowledge in full the part they played. But I do so value the
way Sue keeps our appreciation realistic; we do them no service by
loading their memories with a sentimental gloss. Nor do we help our own
understanding of the roles they played by using over-awed language.
I think Sue's final sentence sums it up: "When
they were in dangerous and difficult situations, being bombed or shelled
or retreating with the enemy at their heels, they relied on their long
experience, their skill, their confidence, determination, dedication and
fortitude, and on an instant learnt response to emergencies. I would
still say that all these came before bravery."
Thanks, Sue. Oh, and I do agree: "Angels
don't actually exist "!
May 2013 update
7 May: Another amazing contact from the relative
of one of those mentioned by Edie: her colleague, Ellen Elizabeth
page is here.
March 2013 updates
12 March: another article,
this time in the Daily Mail, about our meeting.
Kerr's page here.
11 March: article in the
Manchester Evening News about our meeting up with Nicola Mortimer
(great, great niece of Pte Charles Kerr) at the Imperial War Museum
in Trafford Manchester.
Kerr's page here.
February 2013 updates
17 February: the paperback
is at no. 10 in the Sunday Times Paperback Bestbeller list.
8 February: Another brief
but lovely review, this time in today's Daily Express.
1 February: Nice review of
the papaerback edition in today's Daily Mail Book Reviews.
January 2013 updates
28 January: Outline of
illustrated talk available about Edie's diaries and how they came to
It's all here.
17 January: Just received
some fascinating information about a (VAD?) colleague of Edie's,
Olive Swanzy. Edie mentions her on 22 November 1918 in
final volume of her diaries. The new page on Olive is
8 January: The paperback
version is due out on 7 February 2013.
We have an update on the photo of a number of male medical staff taken
in Etretat in 1915/16. Many of those named in the photo were also
mentioned by Edie in her diaries and we are now almost 100% certain that
the photo was taken in front of La Villa les Roses. You can see it all
November 2012 updates
17 November: Excellent news: English Heritage have
agreed to erect a blue plaque at 47 Markham Square, London SW3.
5 November: Article by
local author, Judith Gaunt, in the East Kent Mercury - about Edie
growing up in Deal.
September 2012 update
New page on the relationship
between professional nurses and the VADs, with many extracts from Edie's
diaries to illustrate the point.
We are giving a number of
illustrated talks about the diaries and how they came to light. These
will include extracts from the diaries. For more information about
dates and venues, click here.
26 July: new
contact from great niece of Matron Jeanie Barclay Smith.
8 July: Click
here to see how I got on
on the Island.
I am off to the Isle of Wight from
Monday 2 to Wednesday 4 July 2012 - to hunt for the 'missing volumes' of
the diaries. More info here.
last Thursday - 24 May - we had the great
pleasure of giving an illustrated talk to the Riverside Junior
School class of our granddaughter, Tess, in Hebden Bridge.
More info here.
visit to Bury, Manchester to meet great,
great niece of Private Charles Kerr.
another delightfully written article about
Edie, by editor Matt Dicks, appears in the Summer edition of the
Cotswold Homes magazine.
20 May: Lovely
article - 'Nurses of the First World War' - by Ruth Cowen in June
issue of Who Do You Think You Are magazine.
Full info here.
Talk to Parliamentary Book Club. Go
www.w4mp.org/html/personnel/book_club.asp and scroll down to 'Update
28 April 2012'.
Full info about the Midweek programme here
Edie is scheduled to be
back on the Beeb; this time on
BBC Radio 4's Midweek programme. Great nephew Dick Robinson will
be interviewed on Wednesday 11 April, alongside
others, by presenter Libby Purves. The programme starts after the
news at 9am.
More information here.
23 March: This morning I was interviewed
live on BBC Radio Gloucestershire by Anna King.
Anna had played three extracts from the diaries earlier in the week.
You can hear the
10 minute interview here. This may take a little time
to download - be patient, it's worth the wait!
Today's 'signing' in the Cotswold
Bookstore in Moreton in Marsh was a great success with more than 65
books sold in a couple of hours. Click
here to see the Bookstore's blog report and
here to see
some more pictures (PDF 199KB). Thanks to everyone who turned
up and bought copies!
We have been contacted by the great great
niece of Private Charles Kerr who died in Edie's care on 12 March
1916 and about whom Edie wrote with great compassion.
More information here.
9 March: BBC TV Midlands Today came and
interviewed us (Dick and Lisa Robinson) in Gloucestershire on Friday 9
March and everyone seems to have seen the programme except us as we were
away later that day! Dick was interviewed and Lisa read some
excerpts from the diaries. You can see the whole piece
here. Be patient - it takes some time to download.
I have also done a number of BBC radio interviews: one
for Radio Kent (Edie grew up in Deal in Kent) and another for Radio
Solent which covers the Isle of Wight where Edie lived from 1923 until
her death in 1958. BBC Radio Hereford and Worcestershire did three items
over three days and it was a delight to visit the presenters Howard
Bentham and Toni McDonald in their studio.
from Bern in Australia has included some very useful links
concerning No. 10 Stationary Hospital in St Omer.
based there in December 1914. He says: “the building that houses 10
S.H. (although there were also wards in the adjoining church/chapel
and it's possible other buildings in that street were used too) can
be seen at -
At the insistence of the publishers of the forthcoming book of
Edie's diaries we have had to remove the links to most of the
original text of Edie's diaries. However, you can easily gain
access to the full text. More information here:
The book is due out in March 2012. More information here:
Information and an impressive portrait received of Matron Lavinia
View her page.
September 2011 update
We recently heard
the Historial museum at Péronne
has several copies of the book about Le Tréport
which includes a number of extracts from Edie's diaries.
We were very
sorry to learn in July that Dr Bruno Garraud, co-author of the book
with Ridha Arfa, died in May this year.
about these Le Tréport
August 2011 updates
August: Sue Light has managed to unearth some information about
Sister Kate Maxey, one of Edie’s closest friends working
alongside her in France whom Edie mentions many times in her diary.
We would love to contact any descendants of Kate's.
More information about Kate Maxey
21 August: A television company would
like to trace the descendants of anyone nursed by, or who knew or
worked alongside, Edie. Sue Light has kindly posted
information about this on several WW1 forums including these:
Western Front Assocation
Great War Forum
June 2011 updates
24 June: We are
putting together a complete list of all the names of people
who are mentioned by Edie in her diaries: medical staff, VADs,
soldiers, family, friends, others. This will contain several hundred
names and we hope that descendants of those mentioned will get in
touch with us. See the list here.
17 June: We have just heard
that the 3 episodes of extracts from the diaries which were first
broadcast in November 2009 are to be repeated on Radio 4 on the dates
below. More information can be seen on the BBC website here:
- Episode 1 -
Sunday 26 June at 7.45pm
- Episode 2 -
Sunday 3 July at 7.45pm
- Episode 3 -
Sunday 10 July at 7.45pm
about the original recordings here:
May 2011 update
Like a great
many others I was sad to hear of the untimely death, at the age of 65,
of Professor Richard Holmes on 30 April 2011. He was very
supportive of our efforts to publish Edie's diaries -
read more here.
January 2011 update
are to be published as a hardback by major international publishers,
Simon and Schuster, early in 2012. This is as part of a series in
conjunction with the Imperial War Museum. The working title is 'A
Nurse on the Western Front'. Further
information, as it becomes available, here.
November 2010 updates
14 November: The collection of photos
of nurses which I mentioned in August (see
below) is now available as a slide show on the Western Front
here. It has the benefit of additional notes by Sue Light. I
haven't done the research carefully yet but I'm sure the photos
feature some of Edie's colleagues who she mentions in her diaries.
Extraordinary pictures of the aftermath of WW1, which have been
hidden away for nearly a century, have been discovered in a vault in
Paris. Have a look at a trailer for them, which shows amazing aerial
films of devastated Ypres as well as Passchendaele and miles of
trenches via this page on the BBC website which went live on 4
The film is a part of a special BBC One programme that includes
unique aerial photographs of the battlefield taken by British
pilots. Nick Higham reports on the footage that gives an amazing
insight into history.
More of the footage can be seen on the BBC One programme 'The First
World War from Above' on Sunday 7 November at 2100GMT.
There is a wonderful collection of photographs of trained nurses
and VADs taken by a British nurse during the war and available for
browsing through. I am indebted – once again – to Sue Light for
mentioning this on her blog,
This Intrepid Band.
The images come from the current owner of the album, Bob Cleary,
who lives in the USA and be viewed, together with the discussion they
generated on this page of the Western Front Association forum:
Alternatively, you can start scrolling through them on the forum
where they were originally posted by Bob Cleary (aka Colonel Quack)
See 14 November 2010 update above for info
about a slide show version of the photos.
March 2010 update
In February I
went to a meeting of the
Heart of England branch of the Western Front Association in Warwick.
who has been so helpful in tracing information about Edie, gave a
fascinating talk about the role of nurses in the Great War on the theme
'Not All Angels!' and she has also written a most interesting
on 'British Military Nurses and the Great War'. Click
here to read the article. The meeting was also an opportunity
for me to take along the originals of Edie's diaries which attracted
some keen interest!
December 2009 update
3 December: Piers has
produced two new versions of the family tree, showing all of Edie's
They are here.
November 2009 updates:
19 November: The BBC iPlayer versions have now expired but you can still listen to the
three episodes. They are all
12 November: Hope you enjoyed
the BBC readings. We have received lots of very positive
feedback from around the world so do have a look at
Visitors Book to get a flavour. Each episode was available,
via the BBC iPlayer, for 7 days after its original date of
broadcasting. Next project is publishing the diaries.
Various irons are in the fire but it's proving hard to get a firm
commitment from anyone so far, particularly in the present economic
climate. Watch this space!
4 November: Information about the BBC
Radio 4 broadcasts of Edie's diaries on Monday 10, Tuesday 11 and
Wednesday 12 November 2009 can be found on their
Afternoon Reading website. [No longer available - see
19 Nov - above]
October: Have a look at these photos, taken in Etretat in 1914
by Nurse Barrett and sent to me by her great nephew, Brian Dunlop.
Click here for the page.
17 October: The recording of the
diaries for the forthcoming Radio 4 serialisation in November has
taken place in Brighton. I was lucky to be allowed to sit in
on the session. Read all about the recording session
September: Can you help to identify the original location of
this beautiful stained glass window
which is currently in an antique shop on Vancouver Island, Canada?
July: Exciting news: BBC Radio 4 are to broadcast
three 14 minute extracts from Edie's diaries on the afternoons of 10
to 12 November 2009! The programmes will be produced by the same
company which delivers the Making History programmes:
Productions. See October update (above)
for more recent information.
July: I have heard from Ridha Arfa in Le
that last year's exhibition, which includes extracts from Edie's
dairies when she was stationed in the Trianon Hotel (aka General
Hospital No. 3), is being held again this year.
It will be
in the exhibition building on the cliffs near the top of the
funicular railway between 10 July and 16 August 2009 each Friday to
Sunday between 2pm and 6pm. See
for background information.
July: I spent some time trawling through the diaries of
Dame Maud McCarthy (see
http://scarletfinders.co.uk/25.html and thanks, as ever, to Sue
Light) and came across three mentions of Edie. Full details
June: In March Dick and Lisa visited Le
www.edithappleton.org.uk/Vol4/LeTreport/HotelTrianon.asp to read
a brief report on that visit, together with information about the
splendid book by M. Ridha Arfa and Dr. Bruno Garraud Le
Treport: 1914-1918. Their book includes dozens of images of
soldiers and nurses at the Trianon Hotel, which became No. 3 General
Hospital from 1914, as well as several extracts from Edie's diary.
On 5 May I accompanied a group
from Tonbridge School which visited Ypres.
for a brief report.
May: Back in March I visited Bart's Hospital where Edie
trained between 1900 and 1904 and we now have a copy of her page
from the Matron's Register of Probationers.
Click here to view the page.
further to the item about Edie's early letters (below), in early May
Dick Robinson visited Dorothy West (née
Appleton) at Westall
House, Horsted Keynes.
Click here for a photo
of Dorothy who celebrated her 101st birthday in January 2009.
following a visit to Etretat by Dick and Lisa in March 2009, we are
in process of updating the 'Etretat/Alain Millet' page. It
contains lots of images (old postcards, new photos etc) and is
taking a long time to complete but you can now view this
April: In April 2009 Piers Stainforth (great nephew of Edie)
was rummaging through family archives and found three early letters
from Edie to her mother. These three, which were all in one
envelope, are a wonderful addition to the diaries and fill some of
the gap between the time that she first set off for Belgium and
France in October 1914 and Volume 1 of the diaries.
Read all about those
27 Feb: In January 2009 Alain Millet, who grew up in
Etretat, contacted us via the
Visitors Book with a great deal of background information about
the town and a number of images which link to Edie's dairy. Edie was
at General Hospital No. 1 in Etretat from November 1915 and Alain's
information and images are a wonderful complement to Edie's writings
and sketches. You can see this here: http://www.edithappleton.co.uk/Etretat/Alain_Millet.asp.
We are meeting in
in mid March. NB: this page has now been updated following our
5 Feb: I have put
together a page about the Appleton family home at 9 Golden Street,
Deal in Kent, including a sketch drawn by one of the children in
1879, some fairly recent photos of the house and information about
the grandfather clock which would have been a familiar sound in that
house and which is still going strong.
Click here to see the page.
25 Jan: Karen
Hrabec has provided more information about
Mulrooney who married May Partlin in 1919, after her
first husband, Sgt James Partlin died in 1918, and about his
son by a previous marriage, Patrick James Mulrooney, who had
a relationship with Mary Partlin (Karen's grandma) and
produced her mother.
For information about
the Mulrooneys, click here.
Anyone interested in the role of Canadian nurses in particular
should see the website covering the diaries of Great War nurse,
Alice Isaacson, set up by Library and Archives Canada.
They have much in common with Edie's diaries but the real treasure
is her wonderful and comprehensive photograph album.
be sure to look through her photograph album here:
The item on
Edie's diaries was repeated in the BBC's Making History's
Pick of the Year - their round up of the best items of their 2008
series, broadcast on Tuesday 30 December. Click
here for more information.
I have been
contacted by Karen Hrabec, the great grandaughter of Sgt
James Partlin, who was suffering from a fractured spine and who
died in Edie's care on 21 August 1918.
Click here to read more.
The website was
featured in the
BBC Radio 4 Making History programme
on Tuesday 11 November 2008. Click
here to listen.
Click here for
an Appleton family tree.
A page has
been added about Dame Maud McCarthy whose team Edie joined in 1919:
published in The Guardian on Monday 10 November 2008:
noticed (11 Nov) that there is an exhibition at
Le Tréport (between Dieppe and Abbeville), where Edie worked in the
huge converted Hotel Trianon in 1918. Copies of Edie's diaries are
Further information about the exhibition here:
and about the Hotel Trianon hospital here:
Click here for a
picture of a one of the posters for the exhibition (added 8
We have made a
number of changes to the layout of the site; in particular moving a lot
of information from the home page to separate sub pages. We hope
this makes for easier navigation.
A Visitor's book has been added so
please leave your comments, feedback, corrections, etc there.
photos of the Appleton family in their home, Buddlebrook, at Brighstone in the Isle of Wight have been added
here. Buddlebrook was bought in 1923.
Dron has provided a number of excellent photos of the Trianon Hotel
Le Tréport. This was where General Hospital No. 3 was located and to
which Edie transferred in June 1918.
You can see the images here.
Philippe Drouin lives in
Achiet-le-Grand and is looking for photos of CCS 45 and CCS 49 to
add to his website.
Click here for more information.
A number of newspaper
cuttings and handwritten poems were found loose in the pages of the
They are shown together here. Jayne Hyslop has provided some
information relating to two of the cuttings.
Rifleman James Lennox was
in Edie's care for several weeks in July and August 1916 and died on
Click here for an example of how the internet is helping to draw
together information in a most poignant way.
Sue Light has
unearthed a letter from Miss K.M.Latham, a nurse on active service from
the beginning of the war; the letter was sent back to St. Bartholomew's
Hospital, and published in the newsletter of
League of St. Bartholomew Nurses. It was written in 1916, but
describes her experiences earlier in the war. She mentions that
"Miss Appleton and I had adjoining cells, tiny white rooms, with texts
in black printed on the walls "
and her account
runs parallel to Edie's diaries for the same period for 1915 (see
Volume 2). Sure enough, Edie mentions Miss Latham on five occasions
(8 April, 8 May, 8 September, 13 and 14 October 1915).
Click here for a pdf version of Miss Latham's letter.