Poignant memories of First World War nurse

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From: Margaret W Whitaker, Harswell, East Yorkshire.

At the 11th hour of 11.11.14 my thoughts will be of Nurse Gertrude Charlotte Muriel Morris, who served in No 2 Red Cross Hospital in Rouen from 1915 to 1917. There she bought a leather-bound book that her patients were to fill with drawings, poems, comments and signatures.

Born in 1886 at the Rectory, Thornton-in-Craven, an only child of affluent parents, in 1911 the family moved to Breckamore in Kirkby Malzeard, a house with 19 rooms and nine servants. With little knowledge of life beyond Yorkshire, this lady joined the St John Ambulance Brigade at the outbreak of war, and aged 29 was posted to a hospital in Rouen. Here the album was to be filled with wounded soldiers’ thoughts and fears, jokes and cartoons.

The entries are from every county of these isles, and every Commonwealth country is represented. It makes poignant reading and is full of praise for Nurse Morris and the sisters.

Many of the nurses couldn’t cope, but she must have been made of solid Yorkshire grit, and in 1920 was decorated by George V. She ended her days aged 93 at the Hospital for York where I did my own training. After many years of research I am returning this wonderful memento of a brave lady to her closest living relative near Ripon.