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.
Explore more memories from the ribbon
Submitted by Wendy Patch I am the granddaughter of the much celebrated Harry Patch, who is famous, for the most part because he survived the First World War. But I often think of my other grandfather, or great grandfather to be precise, who didn’t survive and of his wife, who was left a widow with five young children, my grandmother amongst them. His name was Warwick McCartney and he was a deserter. Who knows why, fear, no doubt but surely just as much a reluctance to leave his wife and young family. He was caught, taken to Scotland to be as far from his family as possible (he was a Londoner) to discourage absconding. I know my great grandmother travelled up to Scotland by train to see him and that she knew when he was passing through London on his way to the front, so she went to the station hoping to see him as he passed through. Needless to say she was unsuccessful. He was put in the front lines, as I understand deserters often were and was killed, leaving his wife to manage on her own as best she could. [Warwick’s] wife was called Caroline (maiden name Farmer) and she actually had seven children when he died, my grandmother Annie, Warwick (known as Wally), Nell, Carrie, Harry boy, Bobby and Georgie. The two little boys were in hospital, we think with diphtheria and when the policeman came to the door to tell her that her husband had been…
Carol Sheard of Richmond shared these details with us about her grandfather. Henry Tissiman was born on 10 July 1892. Aged 22, he enlisted on 12th April 1915 at Scarborough as L/12208 Driver H Tissiman with the Royal Field Artillery. He was posted to ‘C’ Battery, 161 Brigade. He went to France on 30th December 1915 from Liverpool and landed at le Havre. He suffered the effects of gas and was briefly hospitalised on 28th February 1916. His service record details that he was granted leave to return home 17th September 1918 until the 1st October during which time he married Emily Guest. This photograph was taken on their wedding day, 21st October 1918. He died on 30th July 1992 at Harrogate.
Herbert Read served in the 2nd, 7th and 10th battalions of the Yorkshire Regiment from 1915 to 1918. During his time in service he was awarded the Military Cross for his actions in leading a trench raid, successfully securing a German prisoner for interrogation and a Distinguished Service Order for his role commanding the 2nd Battalion during the German Spring Offensive of March 1918. He published two volumes of war poetry during the conflict and is commemorated alongside Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. He became a leading figure in the 20th Century, as curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum and Professor of Art at Edinburgh and Harvard Universities. He counted Picasso, Dali, Graham Greene, George Orwell, Peggy Guggenheim and Man Ray amongst his friends. A knighthood in 1953 (at the suggestion of Winston Churchill) came as a surprise to his circle of political associates. His headstone at St Gregory’s Minster near Helmsley reads ‘Knight, Poet, Anarchist’.