Story submitted by Mrs Drury, a resident of Richmond.
Nancy Bainbridge was born in Weardale, County Durham in May 1894. She was one of eight children whose parents were hardy hill farmers. Nancy was a very practical person and joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service in 1914.
Nancy served at a military hospital in East Anglia where the nurses received casualties straight from the Somme. Her upbringing on a farm had afforded her some preparation for the ensuing, distressing sights and sounds. She described how the men arrived with mud and tufts of grass in their wounds. The nurses found out the hard way that soldiers’ skin, subjected to the mustard gas attacks in the trenches, could not be washed with water as that inflicted pain. Nancy received many deathbed requests.
After the war Nancy worked as a private nurse in families with disabled soldiers and patients with other conditions. She married Captain Jack (John Adam) Bell.
Nancy had a brother William, also a hill farmer and ten years older. He joined the Northumberland Fusiliers, but saw little service because, when detailed to chop an officer some sticks, a splinter blinded him in one eye.
Another sibling, Violet, worked in Barnard Castle’s recruiting office. Her soldier husband Harry Raine was awarded the Military Cross. The medal was presented to the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle.
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