Nellie Spindler was born in Wakefield in September 1891. Nellie was her actual Christian name, being baptised on the 11th November 1891.
In 1911 Nellie was a hospital nurse at the City Fever Hospital in Wakefield and from 1912 to 1915 was working at the Township Infirmary, Leeds. From November 1915 until May 1917 she was a staff nurse at Whittington Military Hospital in Litchfield. Nellie then worked as a Staff Nurse with the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, which had been formed in 1902 from the Army Nursing Service of 1881. From May 1917 she was a staff nurse at Stationary Hospital in Abbeville, France.
Neillie also worked as a staff nurse in No. 44 Casualty Clearing Station, a British evacuation hospital located at Brandhoek, a small hamlet near Poperinghe in Belgium. It had a high mortality rate as No 44 CCS was closer to the front line than most and also close to a railway line and munitions dump. It was shelled often as the enemy tried to destroy the rail network thus preventing more munitions reaching the front line.
On the 31st July 1917 the Third Battle of Ypres began. On that day alone a total of 6869 casualties were registered in the four Casualty Clearing Stations and surgeons carried out 582 operations.
On Tuesday, 21st August, 1917 the hospital was shelled and at 11 o’clock in the morning Nellie was hit by shrapnel. She became unconscious immediately and although tended by her fellow nurses she died just twenty minutes later. Nellie’s body was taken to Lijssenthoek and she was buried, with full military honors the next day, Wednesday 18th August 1917. The ‘Last Post’ was sounded and it is thought that over one hundred officers, four generals and the Surgeon-General attended the funeral.
Staff Nurse Nellie Spindler is the only woman amongst 10,000 men in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, the second largest Commonwealth cemetery in Belgium (the largest being Tyne Cot). 9,901 British and 883 Commonwealth casualties rest there. She is also one of only two women members of the QAIMNS to be buried in Belgium, the other being Sister Elsie Mabel Gladstone who died on 24th March 1919 aged 32, and is buried in Belgrade Cemetery, near Namur, Belgium.
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Researched by Katy Douthwaite Cecil Christian Jervelund was born in 1891, the son of a Danish Merchant, Albert Neilson Jervelund, becoming a naturalised British citizen in 1889. Before joining the army, he worked as a Clerk at the local Iron and Steel Works. Charles, his elder brother was a regular Officer in the Yorkshire Regiment and served in India, South Africa and Bermuda. Cecil had been an Officer with the 4th Yorks since 1913 and went to France with them on 18th April 1915. On May 24th, at Hooge, the Germans launched a devastating gas attack, in which 30 Green Howards were killed in action, 70 were wounded and 98 were missing. The heavy toll included Cecil, who was taken to hospital suffering from the effects of gas. After recovering and returning to his unit, Cecil was promoted to Captain on 16th February 1916. He survived the War and appears again in October 1920 when he was once more made a Captain in the 4th Yorks Battalion after they reformed as part of the new Territorial Army. He married Marguerite D Mangin in Ripon, Yorks in 1918 and died in 1942 at Middlesbrough.
Not much is known about the service of Sergeant William Bowman of the Yorkshire Regiment. However, Stuart Hodgson a volunteer at the Green Howards Museum noticed something slightly unusual when he came across a photograph of William. The second button on his tunic is covered in black material. There is a good deal of evidence which suggests that some soldiers who had lost relatives during the war started wearing a black button on their tunic, or sometimes a button wrapped in black crepe. This was probably an un-official practice and a blind eye was turned. However, evidence in an Eastern Command Order (1593) of August 1918 states: “Mourning wearing of, by Non-Commissioned Officers and men. The practice by Non-Commissioned Officers and men of covering the second button of the service dress jacket with black material as a symbol of mourning is irregular and will cease forthwith. (War Office Letter No. 54/ Gen No./3025 (QMG 7) dated 19th July 1918)” We do not know who was being mourned, but it appears that William Bowman survived the Great War.
Walter Gorner Barker was born in Richmond on 2 August 1889. For a time he lived with his family at 71 Frenchgate. He worked as a footman for Sir Mark Sykes at the family seat, Sledmere House near Driffield. Sykes was Commanding Officer of the 5th (Territorial) Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment before the war. It seems that Walter may have served as a territorial soldier before the war (he has a low early regimental number 2274 which is then revised later to 240643). He enlisted at Scarborough and became a Private in the 5th battalion. Walter died on 27 May 1918, south of Craonnne. Prior to this, the battalion war diary records several days as ‘day quiet in trenches’ before the ominous entry for 26th May – ‘”Stood to” at night owing to information received that enemy attack was to be delivered on morning of 27th May’. The diary records that the bombardment began at 1 am with the enemy attacking at 4.30am. The battle lasted for four days. Walter Gorner Barker is commemorated on the Soissons Memorial in France.