At some time during W.W.I Miss Hannah Henderson Smith, of the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve, (QAIMNSR), was Acting Matron of Fovant Military Hospital.
We know that she was still in post there in 1919 as the award to her of the Royal Red Cross is posted in both the London Gazette of 31st July, 1919 and the Edinburgh Gazette of August 5th 1919. The award is also noted in The British Journal of Nursing of 16th August 1919.
The Royal Red Cross was introduced by Queen Victoria in 1883. It was awarded to army nurses for ‘exceptional services, devotion to duty and professional competence in British military nursing
The first recipient was Florence Nightingale.
The British Army Nursing Service had its origins In the 1850s, when Florence Nightingale took her nurses to the Crimea, but it was replaced in March 1902 with the formation of QAIMNS.
In 1907 rules limiting its intake to qualified nurses who were single and of high social class were removed leading to the addition of the Reserve section of the Service – QAIMNSR,whose Cape badge is shown on the right.
This W.W.I nurse, a member of the QAIMNSR, is not only wearing the Cape badge of that organisation but also the ribbons of two war medals.
The photo, showing an identical uniform to that of our matron in the picture on the main page, may be added confirmation that she was a member of QAIMNSR, but it brings us no nearer to identifying her as Miss H.H.Smith.
Was Miss Hannah Henderson Smith the subject of Fred’s cartoon uner the heading of ‘The Matron’? ( note that Fred not only has the Cape badge on the wrong side in his cartoon, but the stripes of the ribbon go horizontal rather than vertical – artist’s licence?)
Furthermore, is it Miss H.H.Smith in the centre of the photograph of the staff of Fovant Military Hospital? Who can tell … perhaps we will know one day.
Thanks to Sue Light we now know that the matron in the photograph is Miss Susannah Lamming and NOT Miss H.H. Smith. We also know that Florence Nightingale was in fact the seventh recipient of the Royal Red Cross.
Content last updated
2 December 2011
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