Tag Archives: sister

CWG: Reserve Nursing Sister Annette Prevost

Reserve Nursing Sister Annette Prevost

Annette Maud Prevost was born on 27th August 1892 in Bombay, India. Her parents were Cumbria-born Francis Prevost and his wife, Maud, who came from Somerset, and she was their only child.

It is unclear why the Provosts were in India, although Annette’s paternal grandfather was a Major in the army and her maternal grandfather was a clerk in holy orders (as per Maud’s baptism record). It is likely, therefore that her grandparents’ work took her parents overseas, which is how Francis and Maud ended up meeting.

Full details of Annette’s life are not readily available. She does not feature on any surviving census records, but it appears that the family returned to England in the early 1910s.

War was on the horizon, of course, and the tragedy of Edwardian culture is that women’s roles in the conflict were under-documented. What is clear, however, is that Annette wanted to play her part and she enlisted in the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service as a Nursing Sister, and was based at Chatham, in Kent.

During the conflict, she would have treated servicemen from the nearby Royal Naval Dockyard, as well as from the Royal Engineers Barracks. As the conflict progressed towards its end, an increasing number of cases would have been for pneumonia and tuberculosis, and, in the autumn of 1918, Annette contracted influenza. She developed sepsis, and died of heart failure on 19th November, a week after the Armistice was declared. She was just 26 years of age.

Annette Maud Prevost was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham, not far from the Naval Hospital in which she served and died.

CWG: Private Albert Gale

Private Albert Gale

Albert Gale was born in the Devon village of Chudleigh Knighton in October 1883, one of five children to John and Elizabeth Gale. It seems that Elizabeth may have died when Albert was young, as, by the time of the 1901 census, John was married to a Sarah Gale, and the family were living in the village of Hennock.

John was a clay cutter, and this was a trade into which Albert followed his father. Again, as time moves on, things change; the 1911 census found Albert boarding with his sister Sophy and her husband, fellow cutter Thomas Willcocks, back in Chudleigh Knighton.

War was coming to Europe and, in April 1916, Albert enlisted, joining the Somerset Light Infantry as a Private. He would have cut a commanding figure; his enlistment papers show that he stood at 5ft 10ins (1.77m) tall.

Albert served on home soil. While attached to the Somerset Light Infantry, he was assigned to the 661st Agricultural Company of the Labour Corps, working in Kent and Sussex.

During this time, he received hospital treatment on four separate occasions: in August 1916, he was admitted with cellulitis of the arm; in December 1916 and January 1917, he was treated on two separate occasions for scabies. In November 1911, however, he was admitted to the Military Hospital in Chichester, West Sussex, as he was suffering from influenza. Sadly, this last condition was to worsen and, on 21st November 1918, Private Gale died, having subsequently contracted pneumonia. He was 35 years old.

Albert Gale’s body was brought back to Devon for burial. His brother-in-law Thomas had died the previous summer; his story can be found here. Albert was laid to rest in the grave next to his sister’s husband in the churchyard of St Paul’s in Chudleigh Knighton.

With Thomas dead, Sophy had been left a widow. Understandably bitter at what the war had taken from her, when she was asked if she wanted a memorial for her brother, she returned the form with the following statement: “I don’t require the plaque and scroll in memory of my dear brother; a piece of paper won’t keep me.”

CWG: Private Sidney Alner

Private Sidney Alner

Sidney William Alner was born in Shaftesbury, Dorset, in March 1899, one of eleven children to Sidney and Ellen Alner. Sidney Sr was a grocer’s porter, and the family lived on the celebrated Gold Hill in the town.

War was to come when Sidney Jr was only young – he had just turned 15 when it broke out. He saw his older brothers go off to war and was obviously keen to do his bit as well. Until he was old enough, however, he worked as an errand boy for his father’s employers, Stratton Sons and Mead.

His time would come, of course, although dates for Sidney’s enlistment are not clear. A contemporary newspaper record confirms that he arrived in France in January 1918, so it is likely that Private Alner joined up at some point during the previous year.

He joined the Hampshire Regiment, and was assigned to the 1st Battalion. Heavily involved during most of the conflict, the battalion was seen as key to the Final Advance of the autumn of 1918. Private Alner was caught up in the fight to break the Hindenburg Line, fighting on the River Selle and capturing the town of Monchaux.

It was while his battalion was advancing on the village of Préseau on 2nd November, that Private Alner was injured. Shot in the arm, he was evacuated back to England, and admitted to the Cambridge Military Hospital in Aldershot. He would have survived his injuries, had pneumonia not set in, and it was to this that he would succumb on 19th November. He was just 19 years old.

Sidney William Alner’s body was brought back to Dorset. He lies at rest in the Holy Trinity Churchyard in Somerset, within walking distance of his family’s home.

Sidney was the second member of the Alner family to die as a result of the Great War.

His older brother Harry, who had become a chauffeur and went to live in London, joined the Royal Army Service Corps in 1915. Private H Alner had served three years in France when he was killed on the front line just three weeks before his brother. He was 32 years old, and left a widow and two children.

When researching Sidney Alner in newspaper articles, an interesting report surfaced.

An unfortunate accident has happened to a little girl, not quite four years old, the daughter of Sidney Alner, who resides in Gold Hill. Heals’ steam hobby horses visited the town on Friday and Saturday in last week, and on the evening of the former day, Alner took his little girl for a ride on the horses.

Whilst they were in motion, the bolt that kept the horse on which Alner sat with his child attached to the connecting rod came out, and he and the little girl were precipitated to the ground.

Alner escaped without injury, but his daughter had one of her legs fractured above the knee. She was taken home, and Dr Evans set the injured limb. Later in the evening she was removed to the Westminster Cottage Hospital.

Salisbury and Winchester Journal: Saturday 31st October 1891

This Sidney Alner was Private Alner’s father, and the daughter would have been his older sister Sarah. Nothing more is reported of the incident, and Sarah went on to live until 1945, when she was 57 years old.