SOLDIERS’ COMFORTS IN COLCHESTER
Colchester Sick and Wounded Soldiers’ Comforts Committee
The Essex Regiments’ Comfort Fund
Friday 24 December 1915, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]: “SUNDAY CONCERT.
A concert was given at the Hippodrome on Sunday evening with the object of raising funds for providing comforts for sick and wounded soldiers in the district. There was a crowded audience.”
Saturday 15 January 1916, Essex Newsman [sic]: “ESSEX REGIMENTS’ COMFORT FUND.
The Hon. Mrs. Alwyne Greville, in her report upon the Essex Regiments’ Comfort Fund for the past year, allows that 34,850 articles of clothing and comfort were sent out, and 213,420 cigarettes. How deeply these gifts were appreciated is told in many letters of acknowledgment. The subscriptions for the year came £977 5s. 2d. In clothing there was spent £184 11s. 5d. in comforts, £268 7s. 2 1/2d.; in smokes (including pipes), £137 16s. 6d.; in sundries, £32 2s.; packing expenses. £13 17s. 8 1/2d.; railway freights, £32 7s. 10d.; stationery, £1 12s.; stamps, 18s. 2d.; rent (proportion of), £6 10s.; and there remains a balance in hand of £299 2s. 4d.”
Friday 18 August 1916, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:
“ESSEX REGIMENTS’ COMFORTS’ FUND. SUMMARY TO DATE, August 17th, 1916. Totals at present received from Divisions:-
Chelmsford … £493 14 1
Colchester … £401 4 7
Beacontree … £329 11 0
Brentwood … £74 17 1
Dunmow … £88 14 5
Maldon and Dengie … £142 4 1
Epping and Harlow (complete) … £333 7 7
Grays (complete) … £103 14 6
Hinckford (complete) … £244 19 1
Ongar (complete) … £160 7 6
Romford (complete) … £247 7 2
Rochford (complete) … £215 5 1
Saffron Walden (complete) … £112 18 5
Thorpe (complete) … £20 2 4
Witham … £153 18 8
[Total] £3,122 5 7
MABEL GREVILLE, Hon. Sec. 84 High Street, Chelmsford. Aug. 17. 1916.”
Friday 11 August 1916, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:
“ESSEX REGIMENTS COMFORTS FUND. RESULTS OF FLAG DAYS, 1916. FIRST LIST.
THE following is the FIRST LIST OF RESULTS of the ESSEX FLAG DAYS for the ESSEX REGIMENTS’ COMFORTS’ FUND. There are other sums to come, which will be duly acknowledged in similar fashion. They are all received with gratitude in the name of the brave Essex men, for whom they are to provide the things which they require on the various battle-fronts — things requisitioned for by the Commanding Officer… for the needs of their men, and sent to them the name of the people their county.
MABEL GREViLLE, Hon. Sec. Danbury Park, Chelmsford, August 9, 1916.
Totals at present received from Divisions:
Witham … £153 18s. 8d.
Thorpe … £20 2s. 4d.
Saffron Walden … £111 18s. 5d.
Rochford (without Southend) … £71 9s. 6d.
Hinckford … £244 19s. 6d.
Epping and Harlow … £333 7s. 7d.
Dunmow … £76 18s. 11d.
Colchester and Harwich (without Colchester) … £398 1s. 5d.
Ongar … £160 7s. 6d.Grays … £103 14s. 6d.
Maldon … £142 4s. 1d.Chelmsford … £479 9s. 6d.
Brentwood (without Brentwood, Gt. Warley, etc.) … £71 13s. 1d.
DETAILS. … … Chelmsford Division … Brentwood Division …
Maldon Division.—(Per Mr. W. Ives, hon. sec.): Maldon. Heybridge, Latchingdon, Bradwell-on-Sea. Woodham Mortimer (Mrs. Krohn). £142 4s. 1d. Burnham-on-Crouch, collection later. … … Crays Divison …
Colchester Division.—Birch and district, per Mrs. Round. £10 5s. 6d.; Tendring and district, per Miss Cooper, £11 18s. 7d.; Wormingford and district, per Honble. Mrs. Stirling, £18 35.; Earls and district, per Mrs. Grimston. £35 9s.; Harwich and district, per Mrs. Saunders. £123; Alphamstone and district, per Mrs. Ernest Marriott. 15s., Marks Tey and district, per Mrs. Steele. £12 5s.; Great Bromley and district, per Mrs. Hirst, £9 8s. 3d.; Mistley and district, per Miss E. Hempson, £13 18s. 3d.; Copford and district, per Mrs. Ruck Keene, £14 6s.; per Mrs. Edwards. £22 4s. 6d.; Dedham, per Mr. W. W. Hewitt, £13 19s.; Ardleigh, per Mrs. Wilson. £10 13s. 9d.; Wivenhoe, per Mrs. Barlow. £33 18s. 3d.; Wigborough, per Miss Hutley. £3 10s.; Brightlingsea, per Mrs. Dickin, £23 6s.; Lawford, per Mrs. Richardson, £12 1s. 5d.; Manningtree, per Mrs. Ley, £5 19s. 2d.; Boxted, per Mrs. Scragg, £4 14s.; St Osyth. per Mrs. Croft. £11 16s. 9d. Total £398 1s. 5d. Little Bentley, Bradfield. The Layers (2). and Colchester to come. … …
Beacontree Division … Dunmow Divison … Epping and Harlow Division …
Hinckford Division.—Halstead, per Mrs. S. A. Courtauld, £55 5s. 4d.; Braintree and district, per Mrs. Marriott, £95; Gestingthorpe and district per Miss M. Barnardiston, £17 2s.; Foxearth and district, per Mrs. Carpenter. £12 13s. 3d.; Steeple and district, per Dr. Bartlett, £15 5s. 4d.: Great and Little Maplestead, per Mrs. Gosling, £3 6s. 4d.; Toppesfield and district, per Mr. J. F. Benson. £28 12s 4d.; Sible Hedingham, per Miss Sparrow. £8; Castle Hedingham, per Miss Twist, £9 14s. 6d. Total for Division: £244 19s. 1d. … …
Rochford Division … Saffron Walden Divison …
Thorpe Division.—Weeley, per Miss Weeley, £7 3s.; Great Holland, per Rev. F. Beadel, £4 13s.; Kirby Cross, per Mr. Maurice Baker, £8 6s. 4d. Total: £20 2s. 4d.
Witham Division.— Coggeshall and district, per Mrs. Reginald Hill, £59 3s. 2d.; Hatfield Peverel and district, per Mrs. H. Zoeto, £21 8s. 7d.; Wickham Bishops, per Mrs. Cooper. £24 6s.; BraxU-d, per Mrs. Boulton, £6; Rivenhall and district, per Mrs. Bradhurst, £12 12s. 6d.; Inworth and district, per Mrs Ide, £7 1s. 8d.; Tolleshunt D’Arcy and District, per Mrs. Binney £17 9s. 3d.; proceeds concert given by 1st Goldhanger Troop Sea Scouts £3 7s. 9d.: Faulkbourne Church offertory, per Mrs. C. Parker, 7s. 3d.; Salcot, per Mrs. Smith, 2s. 6d. Total: £153 13s. 8d.
Articles sent out to July 31,1916—7 months:-
1,558 Shirts, etc.
4, 760 Socks.
2,568 Sweets and Chocolate, lbs. 1,192 Soup, etc. (Tins).
2,751 Pipes, etc. 1,216 Cocoa and Milk. 1,275 Towels.
2,609 Drinks (Cooling). 1,350 Bootlaces.
Friday 13 April 1917, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]: “SUNDAY CONCERT AT COLCHESTER.
Sunday afternoon a concert was held in connection with the Colchester Sick and Wounded Soldiers’ Comforts Committee at the Moot Hall. By kind permission of Col. Carlebach, T.D., and officers, the band of the City of London (Royal Fusiliers) furnished the principal attraction on the programme. Madame Jessie Steele (the Guildford soprano) gave charming renderings of “Dream of Hope.” “There’s an old fashioned town.” “Love’s Own Kiss,” and “The Rosary.” while Corpl. Patten had to respond for his song, “Nivana.” Pt. Jack Rickards (late of the Follies) sang humorous selections. Pt. Harry Hayward, at the piano, and Sergt. H. Pinfold, evoked much merriment with their speciality duets, “Sing us an English song” and “You can’t do without it.””
Friday 27 July 1917, Chelmsford Chronicle [sic]:
“ESSEX REGIMENTS COMFORTS FUND. RESULTS OF FLAG DAYS, 1917. FIRST LIST.
THE following is the FIRST LIST OF RESULTS of the ESSEX FLAGDAYS for the ESSEX REGIMENTS’ COMFORTS FUND. There are other sums to come, which will be duly acknowledged in similar fashion. They are all received with gratitude in the name of the brave Essex men, for whom they are to provide the things which they require on the various battle-fronts—things requisitioned for by the Commanding Officers for the needs of their men, and sent to them in the name of the people of their county.
MABEL GREVILLE, Hon. Sec. Danbury Park, July 26th, 1917.
Totals at present received from Divisions:
Colchester … £328 7s 9d
Chelmsford … £255 1s 6d
Dunmow … £56 1s 10d
Brentwood … £35 7s 2d
Hinckford … £33 2s 5d
Saffron Walden … £31 17s 9d
Rochford … £30 3s 2d
Witham … £16 14s 8d
Epping … £7 0s 9d …
Chelmsford Division … Hinckford Division … Epping Division … Rochford Division … Saffron Walden Division …
Colchester Division.- Wigborough, per Miss Hutley, £1 14s. 1d.; Bradfield per Miss Pat- trick, £5 17s. 6d Layer-de-la-Haye, per Miss Wilkinson, £1 10s. 6d.; Layer Marney, per Miss Wilkinson. £1; Mersea, per Mrs. Pierre- pont Edwards, £23 2s. 8d.; Brightlinsea, perMrs. Dickin, £23 2s. 3d.; Wormingford, per Hon. Mrs. Stirling, £2 12s. 10d.; Mount Bures, per Hon. Mrs. Stirling. 15s. 9d.; Bures Hamlet, per Hon. Mrs. Stirling, £2 12s. 6d.; Great and Little Horkesley, per Hon. Mrs. Stirling, £5 4s.; Boxted, per Hon. Mrs. Stirling, £3 4s. 3d.; Langham, per Hon. Mrs. Stirling, £7 10s. 8d.; Dedham, per Mrs. Hewitt and Miss Saunders. £16 10s.; Harwich and district, per Mrs. Saunders. £127 9s. 11d.; Great Bromley, Frating and Eimstead, Mrs. Hirst, £17; Wivenhoe, Mrs. Barlow, £16 10s. 6d.; Earls Colne, per Mrs. Grimston, £18 4s. 3d.; Wakes Colne, per Mrs. Grimston, £3 2s. 8d.; White Colne, per Mrs. Grimston, £1 0s. 11d. Total for Division. £328 7s. 9d.
Witham Division. Faulkbourne (church collection), per Mrs. C. Parker, £2 19s. 4d.; Tolleshunt D’Arcy, per Mrs. Binney, £3 4s.; Tolleshunt Knights, per Mrs. Binney, 17s 6d.; Tollesbury, per Mrs. Binney, £6 10s. 10d.; Goldhanger, per Mrs. Binney, £1 9s.; Great Totham, per Mrs. Binney, £1 14s. Total for Division, £16 14s. 8d. … …”
Chelmsford Chronicle – Friday 14 September 1917 [sic]: “CONCERT DISTURBED.
–A concert of massed military bands was held in Colchester on Sunday afternoon. A large and appreciative audience was present. In the course of the concert a well-known tune from another source was received with much less favour, and led to a short postponement of the programme. The audience and band quietly dispersed, but gathered together later, when the music was resumed. Over £50 was obtained for the Sick and Wounded Soldiers’ Comfort Fund.”
Saturday 08 December 1917, Essex Newsman [sic]:
“WAR FUND FRAUD. Remarkable Case at Chelmsford.
On Monday, at Chelmsford, before the Mayor (Cr. J. Gowers, J.P.), William Horace” Marjason, 21, a turner, formerly employed at the Hoffmann Works, Chelmsford, pleaded guilty to collecting alms by fraudulent pretence.—Mr. W. F. Arlidge, deputy clerk, said the charge was brought under the Vagrancy Act.
Mr. William E. Poole. Rainsford Avenue, Chelmsford, said that on Wednesday accused came into his shop and handed him a list. Witness noticed the name of Mr. Bragg, Scoutmaster, and that the money was for the Essex Regiment Cigarette Fund. Witness had no conversation with prisoner, but, seeing the cause, entered his name on the sheet and gave prisoner 2s. 6d. At witness’s private residence a week before a similar List was brought to him by the maid and he gave 2s. Mr. and Mrs. Manning, who were spending the evening at the house, also gave 2s.
P.s. Cameron made inquiries respecting complaints of money being obtained by false pretences, and on Saturday visited 10 Queen Street, Chelmsford, where he saw prisoner. Accused gave his name as William Marjason. Witness said “I want you to come to the Police Station and see the Superintendent.” He said, “Very well,” and accompanied witness the station. There Supt. Mules said, “You answer a description of a young man who has been collecting money by fraud in aid the Essex Regiments’ Comforts Fund during the past fortnight.” Accused said, ‘I have not collected any money.” On being searched £11 10s. Treasury notes and about 8s. in silver was found in his possession. Asked if he wished to account for the money, prisoner said, “I drew it out of the Ilford Post Office Savings Bank about six weeks ago, and it is my own.” Witness went 10 Queen Street with Supt. Mules and was handed a bundle of workman’s clothes. Supt. Mules told prisoner, I am satisfied you are the man wanted, and you will charged with fraudulently collecting money for the Essex Regiments’ Comforts Fund.” Prisoner replied, “I never collected any money.” When in the cells prisoner said witness, “I want speak you privately,” and made the following statement: I was discharged from the Essex Regiment on Dec. 25, 1914. On April 26 I joined the London Scottish go to France. After four months I was transferred to the A.S.C. at Aldershot. I was put into the chaffing depot, and as I was suffering with asthma, about Sept. 20 I deserted to go back to my own work. I came to Chelmsford about a month ago and got employment in my trade. I worked for about three weeks, when I poisoned my finger. Dr. Newton told me not to work during the time. I went round the town collecting money in aid of the Essex Regts.’ Cigarette Fund, collecting about £5. The other money found on me is my own, and I want that to be sent to my mother, 16 Pelham Road, Ilford. I destroyed my collecting papers on Thursday night.” Witness added that on Thursday, in company with specials and others, made a search of Braemar Avenue in consequence of a complaint money being collected, but found no one. Prisoner lodged in the vicinity.
Supt. Mules said there was no doubt prisoner was an absentee, and could not be allowed bail.
Accused was remanded to the Petty Session to-day, when he further pleaded guilty obtaining money from Messrs. S. J. Ballard, Bernard Smith, Fred. Collins, and W. A. Murrell.
Mr. Ballard said prisoner asked him for a subscription for a cigarette fund for Essex soldiers on behalf of Scoutmaster Bragg. Witness cross-examined him. Prisoner said Mr Bragg was a busy man, and he (accused), having a day or two off with poisoned hand, was helping Mr. Bragg. Witness gave him 2s. 6d., and should say there was from £15 to £17 on the sheets. Prisoner told his tale remarkably well, and passed through the test which witness applied.
Prisoner: There was nothing like the amount you state.
Mr. Smith said prisoner asked him to contribute to the cigarette fund for Essex soldiers at the Front. Witness showed the list to his brother. The name Scoutmaster Bragg was at the top and prisoner was collecting for him. Witness and his brother each gave 2s. 6d.
Mr. Murrell said he did not take much notice of the sheets, and gave prisoner 2s.; Mr Collins also gave 2s.
P.s. Cameron added that prisoner had a discharged soldier’s badge, which he was entitled to wear.
Supt. Mules said prisoner’s discharge papers showed that he joined the Essex Regt. on Feb. 6, 1913, and was mobilised at the outbreak of war but was discharged as medically unfit on Dec. 25, 1914. He then got a situation as a parcels’ clerk with the London, Tilbury, Southend Railway, and was charged with obtaining money false pretences in August, 1916, and was bound over for 12 months.
If appeared that he had added sums to amounts paid for carriage and had afterwards rubbed them off the sheet. He then obtained employment at the Small Arms Factory, Enfield, where he remained until April, 1917, when he left, according to his story, to join the Navy. He failed to pass, and on June 26 joined the London Scottish. He was transferred to a labour centre, and was now an absentee. By reason of his previous discharge from the Army he obtained employment at the Hoffmann works. It was impossible to say what amount prisoner had collected. Some of the larger sums, such a guinea, were put down by prisoner, but the majority of the sums given were 2s. 6d., and a very large number had been collected. Some money and presents had been sent away to various people. Prisoner was a native of Widford, and was in private lodgings, and that resulted in difficulty in tracing him, a stranger being suspected. His father was dead, and his mother had married again and was living in Ilford. His landlady knew prisoner as a boy. At one house prisoner called he was told the police wanted him. It was that same night that he burned the list. In his bedroom was a weight on which was seccotine or gum and a piece of string, evidently for using to extract letters from letter boxes.
Prisoner: That was the bedroom when I went there.
Supt. Mules said prisoner admitted being an absentee. It was largely owing to the astuteness of a servant at Mr. Pitts’, in Braemar Avenue, that prisoner was caught; she was native of Widford, and thought she recognised him.
Prisoner expressed his sorrow, and said he was quite willing for the money found to be given a Red Cross fund and to be bound over himself that he could have the chance of going to France.
The Bench passed sentence of two months’ hard labour on three charges, the sentences to run consecutively—six months in all – and ordered the money found on prisoner to be handed to Mrs. Greville, hon. sec. of the Essex Regiments’ Comforts Fund.”
1919: In the Essex Newsman (Saturday 05 April 1919); the Chelmsford Chronicle (Friday 11 April 1919); and other newspaper editions, the following sentence was printed. It was probably linked to the “winding up” dinner which took place on 10 April 1919 (photograph afore-shown) [sic]: “£3,000 has been raised at Colchester by the Sick and Wounded Soldiers Comforts Committee for the wounded.”
The following text has been taken from the pages 78 and 79 of the book ‘Colchester War Memorial Souvenir. The Great War 1914-1918’ edited by Edgar A. Hunt, J.P., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., L.S.A. (Chairman of the Monument Committee). Printed and published by The Essex Telegraph Ltd., Head Street, Colchester [sic]:
“THE BASKETS FUND.” COMFORTS FOR THE SICK AND WOUNDED SOLDIERS.
“Do not forget our men on beds of pain, / Whose sacrifice was made that we might gain / Sweet Peace ; GIVE WELL, lest all THEIR gifts be vain, / And let your heart to theirs impart, / That glowing cheer that draws man near / To God’s own throne, / When sympathy—true sympathy—‘twixt man and man is known.”—J. MILTON HAYES.
The above verse appeared on a well got-up appeal for gifts for the above either in kind or money, which was issued by Mrs. W. B. Slaughter, of “The Scarletts,” Colchester. The appeal was illustrated with a capital photograph of her famous “basket” filled with a varied assortment of good things. Mrs. Slaughter was one of the very best of our many good war workers.
On her return from France, where she had been to visit her son, who was lying, badly wounded, in the Allies’ Base Hospital at Boulogne, she was asked almost immediately to do what she could for the benefit of the sick and wounded in the Military Hospital by Colonel Harvey Scott, the then P.M.O., as he was in great distress, the hospital being very full and no one doing anything in the way of looking after comforts for the men.
Whilst at the Boulogne Hospital she had noticed how the housekeeper came round the wards with a basket containing a few articles of everything the men wanted, and when appealed to by Colonel Harvey Scott she remembered and resolved to imitate this basket here. By May 28th she had arranged with several friends to help her. She had special baskets made, and these she quickly filled with such things as she knew would delight a sick man’s heart, such as sweets (especially chocolates), looking-glasses and scented soap, tooth brushes and powder, shaving brushes, hair brushes and combs, all kinds of newspapers—especially illustrated ones—cakes, fruits, and many other things too numerous to mention. Then an office was lent her in which to receive contributions in kind and arrange them in her nine large baskets. The next difficulty was money, so she got up concerts for the Comforts Fund, organised private theatricals, and arranged every entertainment she could think of likely to bring “grist to the mill.” She then personally canvassed the town, appealing for help from the population, both civil and military. And she didn’t meet with a single refusal. She was soon assured of a monthly subscription, which amounted to £120 a year throughout the war. Their goodwill and generosity were so great she was enabled to carry on, with the help of her eldest daughter and many friends, for a year and a half, when the new General’s wife Mrs. Blomfield, wrote to her and said she would like to help. This, indeed, was a relief to her, and lessened a great responsibility, as the expenses had become very considerable. General Blomfield himself came to the rescue, and asked the many different regiments in our very large Garrison to assist with subscriptions. By that time the expenses exceeded £600 per annum, and Mrs. Slaughter was finding it very difficult to raise sufficient funds to enable her to carry on—the number of her helpers had increased to 30, and, instead of nine, she had eighteen baskets, which had to be taken round the whole system of hospitals, auxiliary hospitals, huts for the invalids, etc. Every Tuesday the ladies carrying these baskets were gratefully welcomed by the sick and wounded men. General Blomfield then kindly places an ambulance at her disposal, which much facilitated the conveyance of the baskets.
In her second year of work, through Mrs. W. G. Benham, an office was kindly lent her—entirely to herself—in the Conservative Club premises in the High Street. The scheme was now in thorough working order, and, without any hitch or trouble, to the great relief and comfort of all our invalided men, was carried on until Peace was declared. After the first year Miss Slaughter worked at munitions until the end of the war, another daughter worked in the Hospitals with her mother, while a third, throughout the whole period of the war, worked at Messrs. Davey, Paxman and Co.’s. For the last two years she was made head of and was placed in charge of the big Munition School at the Hythe.
Besides the Military Hospital, in which there were as many sick and wounded as 1,800 at one time, in the years 1916 and 1917, there were those at the Essex County Hospital, the Gostwycke Hospital and the Hamilton Road School, etc., etc. Mrs. Slaughter was very keen to keep the men well supplied with “smokes,” and this she was enabled to do, largely owing to the liberality of Sir Thomas Pile.
During the war no less a sum of £8,000 was contributed to the Comforts Fund. At the end of the war there was a small balance, out of which a good clock for the Soldiers’ Recreation Room was purchased, on which is an inscription which all soldiers of the future may read, showing how much money was raised locally for the comfort of the troops in the Great War.
It is to be remembered that in addition to Mrs. Slaughter’s baskets, there were others which were regularly taken to the Hospital by several ladies who prefer to remain anonymous, all through those trying years.
There was another “comfort” the men much needed, and that was an occasional hot bath. Large numbers of the residents allowed the troops to use their bath-rooms.
The troops from the Overseas Dominions had their own arrangements about “comforts.” Large cases were sent down from their different Headquarters in London. Those were unpacked here, and the content were distributed by Miss Impey-Lovibond (now Mrs. C. B. Sanders).
READ MORE ABOUT MISS IMPEY-LOVIBOND FURTHER INTO THIS CHAPTER.
SOME OF THE SICK AND WOUNDED SOLDIERS
HELPED BY THE COMFORTS FUND AND/OR BASKET FUND
COLCHESTER MILITARY HOSPITAL. January 1917
The above-shown photograph depicts some sick and wounded soldiers who were helped by the Comforts Fund Committee or The Basket Fund – posing outside a Ward Hut at Colchester Military Hospital.
The photograph originally belonged to Miss Catherine Florence “Kitty” Corse-Scott (later Mrs. George Micklethwaite Wilson). Kitty wrote on the back of this card: “Ward I visited at Colchester Military Hospital 1914-18 War”.
Nine wounded soldiers autographed the back of this photograph – five were Australians; one belonged to the Royal Scots Regiment; and three belonged to the East Lancashire Regiment.
Given the periods the five identified Australian soldiers were patients at Colchester’s General Military Hospital, there seems to have been a window between 16 and 22 January 1917 when they were all there to be photographed together.
The Royal Scots lad can be seen in the front row, wearing his Glengarry hat; four of the five Australians are wearing their distinctive slouch hats; and it is wondered whether the three East Lancashire lads are the three soldiers wearing caps with prominent badges (if a clearer image could be obtained, perhaps the badges would be identified/confirmed as East Lancs).
Kitty was born in 1888, in India. Born a British subject, Kitty was the daughter of Royal Warwickshire Regiment Colonel Edward Henry Corse-Scott and Emily Sarah Henrica (nee Pearce). Prior to, and during the Great War years, Kitty and her family were living at The Glebe House (aka The Old Rectory), 10 Spring Lane, Lexden. Retired Colonel Corse-Scott served as military representative on the local War Tribunals.
It is believed Kitty was visiting Colchester’s General Military Hospital under the auspices of the ‘Colchester Sick and Wounded Soldiers’ Comforts Fund’. No evidence directly links Kitty’s name to the ‘Comforts Fund’ but she knew the Ruck-Keene family who did work for it. Given Kitty’s military heritage (which extends beyond her father), she was an ideal candidate to give her services to such a cause and her photograph is testimony to that.
On 31 July 1917, Kitty married George Micklethwaite Wilson of Copford – they married in St Leonard’s Church by special licence, while George was home from France after being wounded. He had been a volunteer ambulance driver with the Red Cross in Ypres, from December 1914 but joined the Suffolk Regiment in June 1915. George’s Best Man was Lieutenant Ernest Lawrence Ruck-Keene – of Lexden. Ernest died on 24 December 1918, at Constantinople.
N.B. Kitty’s photograph is duplicated in the ‘General Military Hospital’ chapter and the identified patients, within the photograph, are profiled within that same chapter: COLCHESTER: General Military Hospital, Sobraon Barracks.
Some of the efforts of Colchester’s railway staff are highlighted in the following text, which has been taken from the pages 79 and 80 of the book ‘Colchester War Memorial Souvenir. The Great War 1914-1918’.
“FREE BUFFET FOR THE WOUNDED.”
Wonderful was the promptitude shown at the North Station in the organisation of arrangements for the supply of refreshments, etc., to the sailors and soldiers in the first rush of the war. From the beginning, the stationmaster, Mr. Ernest A. Wicks, M.B.E., was indefatigable, and the whole staff in the refreshment rooms, under Miss Ayden (now Mrs. Bridge), did wonders. They were on duty day and night—no ambulance train ever arrived to find their wants unprovided for. Be it remembered—in the beginning—but for voluntary effort the troops would have fared badly. Most liberally did the staff at the Refreshment Rooms contribute to a little comforts fund of their own. Later on, things gradually became organised officially, and the G.E.R. made arrangements with the War Office to honour the vouchers the men were provided with to enable them to obtain refreshments. The price charged by the G.E.R. Hotel Department was astonishingly low. Occasionally, so great was the pressure here, the Superintendent for this district, who offices were at Ipswich, would send over a new reinforcement of waitresses, etc., with provisions from Ipswich to the North Station and St. Botolph’s [Station].
Perhaps a draft was leaving—an officer and some seventy men. He would express a wish these men might have a good hot meal at about midnight, and with commendable pride Mrs. Bridge is able to say she and her staff would provide such a meal.
One day, a lady whose husband had a short time before fallen at the Front, noticed Mr. Wicks handing cigarettes, newspapers, etc. etc., to some troops about to enter a train, and enquired from what fund he was enabled to do so. He replied there was no fund. “Then,” said the lady, “There must be one ;” and so was started the “North Station Comfords Fund.” Mrs. Vizard, with friends, soon collected subscriptions, and by its aid on 17th May, 1917, was opened the “Free Buffet for the Wounded.”
The accounts kept by Mr. Wicks of the hundreds of cups of tea and coffee at one penny per cup, of endless refreshments, smokes, etc., are wonderful, and he is naturally very proud of the fact that throughout the whole war they were never without supplies to meet the wants of every sailor and soldier who applied for anything. In June, 1919, he concluded the Station Comforts Fund had supplied no less than 17,000 men. Apart from the fund, repeatedly officers wished to provide the travelling troops with comforts and meals at their expense, some times for an entire troop train, and frequently they disbursed large sums by cheques, which Mr. Wicks arranged should be received in payment, These cheques were all sent up to Liverpool Street. The lack of ready money had not prevented the troops having what they were in need of.
When organisation was complete the War Office arranged with the G.E.R. to supply all troops at very reduced rates.
During the whole war never was heard a single complaint about any inefficiency in the matter of satisfying the needs of the travelling Bluejackets and Tommies, and this despite unrestricted “U” boat warfare and out consequent shortage of food.
Lady Worthington-Evans kindly presented the North Station with a refreshment trolley which had been made at Lord Roberts’s Workshops here. It was soon found, however, it would be more useful at Liverpool Street than at Colchester, and, consequently, it was transferred to the Metropolis.
MISS LOVIBOND AND THE AUSTRALIAN RED CROSS
IN THE COLCHESTER AREA, ESSEX
Before the transcribed mention of Miss Lovibond was discovered, an investigation occurred due to the acquisition of the photograph shown below:
The photograph, shown above, was taken on 8 August 1918. On the reverse, the unique message gives no clue as to the occasion pictured – other than it had been written from the ‘Military Heart Hospital’ in Colchester on 10 August 1918. The ‘Military Heart Hospital’ was at Sobraon Barracks, adjacent to Colchester Military Hospital.
The unknown house; together with the unknown posing people; and the hand-written “Australian Red Cross Colchester” title threw up many questions and the quest began to discover everything possible about it and the story behind it.
Australian and British newspapers, plus a genealogical research website, all helped to solve the mystery. The first clues of who, why and where came in the form of the following article – the “who” could be a Miss M. Lovibond (a/the local Australian Red Cross representative); and the “why and where” was entertaining wounded Australians at an ‘Ashbourne House’.
The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic.) Saturday 13 July 1918 p 41 [sic]:
“SOCIAL NOTES. …
On May 15 Miss M. Lovibond, Australian Red Cross representative, assisted by Mrs. Mary Herring, widow of the late Lieutenant C. Harvey Herring, R.N., entertained a number of wounded Australians from Colchester military hospital at a tea and musical evening at Ashbourne House, Colchester, Essex. After a pleasant evening, the guests warmly thanked the hostess for her kind and thoughtful hospitality. Miss Lovibond’s visits to the hospitals in and around Colchester on behalf of the Australian Red Cross Society are greatly esteemed by the Australian sick and wounded therein.”
The next article, of worth, was found in The Mount Barker Courier & Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser (SA), on 1 Feb. 1918, within a Y.M.C.A. report sent through to Melbourne from the Australian Engineers’ Training Depot in Brightlingsea, Essex (albeit with a mis-spelt “Lovibond” [sic]:
“… —Red Cross Representation at Colchester.—
Miss Lovibund keeps all our boys provided with necessities in hospital. There are about 250 Australians in hospital in Colchester—mostly limbless cases. I have made arrangements that any day suitable that a party can be driven over here, distance 10 miles, that we will pay the expenses, and give the boys afternoon tea and a cheery little concert for 30 or 40 minutes at the recreation room. I feel quite sure that this work will be well worthy of small expenditure incurred. …”
It is also believed that the following mention of “The Australian Red Cross lady”, in the ‘Wangaratta Chronicle’ newspaper (Victoria) on 6 July 1918, refers to Miss Lovibond [sic]:
“Gunner Gerald Morris, of Rutherglen, writing from Colchester Military Hospital, says that the Australian Comforts Fund is the best aid there is to the Australian man in the trenches. They always have a place up as near to the line as they can, and whenever you call in you can get shirts, socks, etc,, also hot drinks and biscuits. When we were up at Ypres they had one of those depots on the main road and it was great to call in on our way up and down from the pits. The Australian Red Cross lady comes round the hospital with gifts every Monday. The American Red Cross lady also comes with an enormous collection of gifts. You can get anything you wish for. She has such a funny voice, which is amusing to all.”
After World War One began, an Australian branch of the British Red Cross was created on 13 August 1914. Initially, it was known as the ‘Australian branch of the British Red Cross Society’. By the time World War One ended, it was being referred to as the ‘Australian Red Cross Society’ – even though it was still officially a “branch”. It was not until 1927, that the ‘Australian Red Cross Society’ gained its independence from the British Society. https://trove.nla.gov.au/people/462899?c=people
To cut a long story short, this photograph was taken in the back garden of ‘Ashbourne House’, 1 Victoria Road, Colchester. It is deduced that the lady in the photograph is Miss Mabel Annie Impey-Lovibond, whose home ‘Ashbourne House’ was (from 1913 until 1920).
Who was Mabel Annie Impey-Lovibond?
Mabel was born 1866 Cheltenham, Gloucestershire – as “Mabel Annie Impey”. She was a daughter of Dawlish, Devon-born retired Colonel (Royal Engineers [late Bengal] Engineers) Archibald Impey [later Impey-Lovibond] and Illinois, U.S.A.-born mother Clara Prudence (nee Hanks. Also seen as Clara Prudencia Impey). Archibald and Clara married on 25 July 1854 in Sydney, NSW, Australia:
The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW) Thursday 27 July 1854 p 5 Family Notices:
“MARRIAGES. On the 25th instant, at St. James’s Church, by the Rev. Dr. Woolley,
Archibald Impey, Esq., Bengal Engineers, to Clara Hanks.”
Mabel’s father Archibald Impey had fought in the Indian Mutiny of 1857 and the Sikkim Expedition of 1860. In 1872, he legally changed his surname to “Impey-Lovibond” by Royal Licence (Queen Victoria signed the eight page document) – to comply with the will of his cousin George Brudenell M. Lovibond. Archibald held the offices of Deputy Lieutenant of Essex (1892) and Justice of the Peace.
Mabel had very exotic-sounding forebears: her paternal grandmother was Julia Adeline Antoinette de l’Etang (born 1791 Pondicherry, Pondicherry, India – died 21 October 1866 Bath, Somerset) … Julia’s father, Mabel’s great-grandfather, was Chevalier Ambrose Pierre Antoine De L’Etang (born 20 July 1757, Versailles, Yvelines, Ile-de-France – died 1 December 1840 Ghazipur, Bihar, India).
Ambrose De L’Etang was in charge of the Royal Court of Versailles stables. After this position, he was in charge of the Nawab of Awadh’s stables, at Lucknow, India. Ambrose married Therese Josephe Blin de Grincourt on 1 March 1788, at Pondicherry in India – where Mabel’s grandmother was born. Mabel’s Impey Gt. Grandfather was Sir Elijah Impey – the first Justice of Calcutta, India.
Mabel’s maternal Hanks grandparents were Quakers: grandfather Francis David Hanks was an Irish Quaker, who had emigrated to U.S.A., and his wife Prudence Birkbeck was the daughter of eminent Quaker preacher Morris Birkbeck. After emigrating to the U.S.A. from Wanborough in England, Morris Birkbeck co-founded (with one George Flower) the English Settlement of Wanborough, Edwards County, Illinois, in 1817/18.
1871 Census: Turton? House, Leckhampton, Glos. Mabel was living with her “Retired Colonel Royal Engineers” father; mother; two older sisters; an older brother; plus four servants.
1881 Census: ?The family have not be discovered, as yet.
1891 Census: New Hall, Ardleigh, Essex. Mabel was living with her “J.P. Retired Colonel” father; mother; and two servants.
1897, 19 Jun: Mabel’s father Archibald died at New Hall, Ardleigh, Essex: “By his will of the 21 July, 1896, Colonel Archibald Impey-Lovibond … appointed the trust funds … to his daughters, Bessie Clara Gully and Mabel Impey-Lovibond, and he left all the residue of his property to his wife. …”
1901 Census: New Hall, Ardleigh, Essex. Mabel was living with widowed mother (Living on own means); plus two servants.
‘Twixt ’01-’11: Mabel and widowed mother moved to Derby House, 25 The Avenue, Colchester.
1909: Derby House was purchased for £2,000 through a public-subscription fund, for the use of the Bishop of Colchester, Robert H. Whitcombe and his family. However, in 1909, the Bishop moved into ‘Gostwycke’, Cambridge Road, Colchester (a couple of streets away).
1911 Census: Mabel “Impey-Lovibond” was living at Derby House, 25 The Avenue, Colchester, with her widowed mother Clara Prudence; a Sick Nurse; a Cook; a Housemaid; and a Parlour maid.
1913, 20 Mar: Mabel’s mother died at Derby House 25 The Avenue, Colchester.
1913, ?Aug: Mabel Annie Impey-Lovibond became the owner of Ashbourne House in Victoria Road – the Bishop of Colchester’s former home! In reality, Mabel and the Bishop exchanged Houses.
1914-1918: At some point, during World War One, Mabel became a/the local representative of the Australian Red Cross. As the afore-mentioned articles describe, Mabel would tour local Homes and Hospitals, looking after the welfare of Australian soldiers AND offer them respite from their ills.
1920, 3Q: Mabel married Irish-born Land Agent Charles Stewart Sanders, in Colchester, Essex. Their marriage was registered during the 3rd Quarter of 1920. On 24 November, ‘Ashbourne House’ was auctioned: “Sale Catalogue of Ashbourne House 1 Victoria Road, Colchester”: ERO Ref: D/DJ 2/21/8
1945, 5 Nov: Mabel died in South Africa:
“SANDERS Mabel Annie of Rockhill Plettenberg Bay District Kynsna Cape Province South Africa widow died 5 November 1945 Probate London 16 December to Clifford Reginald Templeman Annesley retired lieutenant-colonel H.M. army.Effects £3249 6s 4d. in England.”
Mabel is buried with her husband in Plettenberg Bay, Eden District Municipality, Western Cape, South Africa.
Australian George’s 1918 message of love, to a Dorothy:
Who was Mrs. Mary Herring, who “assisted” Mabel Lovibond?
At the time the photograph was taken, Mary Herring lived at 4 West Lodge Road, Colchester – presumably, Mary and Mabel were friends. It would have literally only taken a couple of minutes for Mary to walk from her home to ‘Ashbourne House’, to help Mabel with her entertainment/s. Heading in the direction of the town centre, West Lodge Road began where Victoria Road ended.
Widow Mary Herring was born Mary Anne Halpin on 4 January 1859, in Cavan, Ireland. Her parents have not been identified, as yet. N.B. Birth date entered in the 1939 Register.
On 28 September 1886, Mary married retired Royal Navy Lieutenant Charles Harvey Herring at St. Mary, Henbury, Gloucestershire. Mary’s father was named as Charles Halpin.
Charles’ birth was registered as “Charles Henry Herring” 3Q 1846; born Fordham, Essex. His parents were William Harvey Herring and his wife Frances Louisa “Fanny” nee Brock), at St. Mary, Henbury, Gloucestershire. Charles died 6 July 1899, at Heath Lodge, Lexden, Colchester.
In the 1891 Census, Mary and Charles were lodging at 256 Monument Road, Edgbaston, Warwickshire. Charles’ occupation was given as “Tramway Manager” and there was also one Sarah Herring lodging with them – perhaps Charles’ Aunt Sarah. On 6 July 1899, Charles died at Heath Lodge, Lexden, Colchester.
In 1902, widow Mary Ann Herring sold her home – Heath Lodge, Heath Road, Lexden – to Solicitor Cecil Howard Morton and (it is deduced) moved in with her widowed mother-in-law Fanny – at Merly House/4 West Lodge Road, Lexden, Colchester – they are found together in the 1911 Census. Fanny had been living with her older sister Amelia Maria Brock but Amelia had died on 26 April 1901.
During World War One, it appears that Mary would “assist” Mabel Impey-Lovibond in entertaining wounded soldiers – as per afore-shown newspaper articles. It would have only be a short walk from Mary’s home in West Lodge Road, to Mabel’s at Ashbourne House. It is deduced that the two women were good friends.
In the 1939 Register, Mary A. Herring was shown to have “Independent” means. She had Deborah A[nn] Pettitt (born 14 February 1876, Braxted, Essex) as her Housekeeper, with Sophia Pettitt as her Cook (born 9 April 1881, Mount Bures). Deborah and Sophia were cousins.
Mary died in 1953: “of Merly House West Lodge-road Colchester widow died 14 February 1953 Probate Ipswich to John Aylmer Fitz-Hardinge Morton solicitor and Margaret Bryan Owen spinster. Effects £12731 12s. 9d.”
Mary’s solicitor is noted as John Aylmer Fitz-Hardinge Morton. John Morton was the son of the aforementioned Cecil Howard Morton – whom Mary had sold ‘Heath Lodge’ to. There is a suspicion that the Morton and Herring families were related in some way.
So … this is part of the story behind one World War One photograph, taken in Colchester. But whatever happened to George and Dorothy?