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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John Avery was a miner and lived at Felling on Tyne, Co. Durham. He was married to Elizabeth Anne Speight. He was 29 years old when he enlisted at the outbreak of war and was initially posted to the 10th Battalion but subsequently served in the 11th and 8th. John suffered a gunshot wound to two fingers on his right hand in September 1915 and subsequently from the effects of gassing and shell shock. He was posted to the reserves in early 1917 and sent to work at Heworth Colliery, Felling on Tyne. Due to his wounds he was unable to work full weeks and he applied for a disability pension. He was granted 12 shillings and 6 pence a week to rise to 13/9d and subject to review after 48 weeks. He was awarded the 14/15 Star, the British War Medal , the Victory Medal and a Silver War Badge.
Born in York, 16th of January 1886, the son of Major H L M Levin, 19th Foot (the Green Howards). Commissioned as Second Lieutenant on 28th of January 1905 and promoted to Lieutenant on the 3rd of October 1906. He became a Captain prior to the First World War on 23 April 1913. In the First World War 1914-18 he went to Belgium with the 2nd Batallion. Was severely wounded at Gheluvelt, 29th of October 1914 by a shrapnel shell. His life was saved by the silver lucifer box (match case) he carried in his brest pocket. For the remainder of the War was employed on the staff at home. He retired in March 1921, but was recalled in September 1939 with the outbreak of World War II. He was awarded the rank of Honorary Lieutenant Colonel and an OBE for his service. The photograph of his fellow 2nd Battalion officers is remarkable in that of the 26 Officers pictured in October 1914, 10 were dead by the end of the year, 3 more were killed subsequently, 10 were wounded and / or taken prisoner, and only 3 appear to have survived the War unscathed.
Meryl Abbey sent us some information about her great uncle, Richard William Adams. Richard served with the Yorkshire Regiment, arriving in France on 25th March 1915. Little is known about his service, but he served as 10438 Lance Corporal R Adams. He is buried at Bethune Town Cemetery having died on 30 August 1915. He was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War medal and the Victory medal.