Winkleigh sent two young women to become ‘VADs’. VADs were members of the Voluntary Aid Detachments that were recruited by the County Associations to supply the hundreds of extra junior nursing staff that were required, both in the UK and overseas in all the theatres of war, as the casualties mounted alarmingly. Voluntary Aid Detachments in Devon, as indeed in the other English counties, were organised by the County Branch of the Red Cross Society. In Devon, the administration was carried out jointly by a County Committee and a Finance Committee, linked since the creation of the Territorial Army Reform of 1908 to the Devon Territorial Force Association. From 1909 onwards the V.A. Detachments were recognised as forming part of the of the Territorial Reserve Force, indeed they were intended to provide the medical arm of this reserve army which was originally devised from 1909 onwards to provide a Home Defence Force in the event of war, thus allowing the regular army to be released for service overseas. By 1915 of course all this had changed. The Territorials were required overseas after the huge losses of 1914 and the early battles of 1915, and in its turn the work of the VA Detachments required huge expansion to provide the staffing for voluntary hospitals, nursing homes, convalescent homes, base hospitals in France and Egypt, and eventually even casualty clearing stations nearer the line, as well as hospital trains and ships.
VADs were at first selected very much from the middle classes, because of their educational backgrounds and the voluntary nature of their enrolment (unpaid at the start) which allowed them to live off their family means. Their enthusiasm was certainly based as well on the opportunities war service gave to these young ladies to be at last released from their restrictive lives and to be allowed to take part in ‘the great adventure’ in which so many of their brothers, cousins and the relatives of their friends were engaged. Winkleigh’s two VADs, Eva Glover the doctor’s daughter and Evelyn Johnson, the daughter of the squire whose two brothers were to serve, were surely typical of the class. The minimum age for enlistment was 23 and even then in those pre-war days of chaperones, parental permission was required. Once enrolled, overseas service could be offered to those who were suitable and who wished to serve in a theatre of war.
Eva Glover had an adventurous war. She was born in 1893 in Aberdeen. Her father, Dr. William Kensit Glover had been born in Tottenham in 1856. He trained and qualified at Aberdeen, taking his MB BChir in 1898, prior to his marriage to Mary, 6 years his junior, who had been born in Aberdeen. In 1891 Dr. And Mrs. Glover were living in that city with their first two children, Dorothy Mary then aged 5 and William aged 2. Besides general practice, Dr.Glover was also serving as the Honorary Medical Officer to the Aberdeen Cottage Hospital, the District Medical Officer and the Public Vaccinator. The family then moved to Dartford, Kent. Here, besides general practice, Dr. Glover was also the Medical Officer at the Liningstone Hospital, Dartford. In 1911, they were still living in Dartford, Kent, Mary Dorothy, aged 25, was now an art student and their third child, Eva Leonora aged 18, was described as a part time student. In 1914 the family came to live in Winkleigh, after the Winkleigh doctor, Dr. Harvey, had left to enlist at the beginning of the war. He was killed accidently in Mesopotamia in 1915, and his name is on the Memorial Cross. Eva’s post-war VAD record card gives her permanent address on 21st July 1919 as Goodleigh House, Winkleigh, the same home that had been lived in by Dr. Harvey.
Eva Glover enrolled in the 56th Detachment, which had been mobilized on 17th October 1914, on the 20th September 1915, then aged 23, and was selected for service on 5th October. By the time of her discharge on 23rd April 1917 she had had a significant war record. On 26th October, she began a month of training with Detachment 56 at Crediton. The Detachment received a very favourable County Director’s report, stating: ‘A good and efficient Detachment, all the members have done good work at the Crediton VAD Hospital’. This small hospital opened in October 1914 and was located in the Isolation Hospital of the Board of Guardians (the Crediton Workhouse) situated on high ground outside the town. By 1915 it had treated 251 patients, most from the Expeditionary Force in France.
From there, Eva was posted as a Probationary Nurse to Egypt, Alexandria, to the Base Hospital for the many who were still recovering from Gallipoli, and for other casualties from the Mesopotamian campaigns. The Chumleigh Deanery Magazine edition for November 1915 proudly records in the Winkleigh notes: ‘Miss Glover has trained as a nurse for the Red Cross and has sailed for Egypt’. Here she stayed until 31st May 1916. She returned to England, possibly sick or perhaps for some other reason for an extended leave of 5 months, but on 23rd October 1916 Eva was posted to France. The Chumleigh Deanery Magazine followed Eva’s progress: ‘In Winkleigh, Miss Eva Glover left last month for France, and is stationed at No.10 Hospital, in Rouen. We feel sure she will do well, and we wish her every success and a safe return home after ‘doing her bit’ in this great hour of England’s history’. However, after just over four months in France she returned to England on 7th March 1917, and was posted at once to Eastbourne where she served only six weeks, obtaining her discharge on 23rd April 1917.
The Rev. Desmond Bickersteth Ottley, had first come to Winkleigh as a curate. Desmond’s father was The Rev. Henry Bickersteth Ottley, who became an Hon. Canon of Canterbury, and who had been vicar of St. Margaret’s, Ilkley, Yorkshire. Desmond was born in Horsham, and by 1891 the family was in Eastbourne. In 1911 Desmond’s father, now 60, was living in style in Kensington, London. The Rev. Bremridge had died in late June 1913, and Winkleigh’s new vicar, the Rev. T. Ackland Edmunds was inducted on June 30th by the Bishop of Crediton. In December 1913 he was joined by his curate, the Rev. Desmond Ottley; the two men had worked together in Torquay before coming to Winkleigh. The Chumleigh Deanery Magazine reported in December 1916 that The Rev. Ottley had volunteered to serve as an army chaplain. The vicar reported:
‘He writes cheerfully of his new life in camp with a Brigade of Artillery. His new address is Rev. D.B. Ottley, CF, 4th Reserve Brigade, R.F.A., Officers’ Mess, Boyton, Wilts. I feel sure he would be delighted to hear from any of his friends in Winkleigh.’ The 4B Reserve Brigade was a training brigade of the Royal Field Artillery. The Rev. Ottley’s medal record then shows that in September 1917 he was posted to France.
The story has a happy ending. On 4th July 1918 at the Parish Church of Ilsham, Newton Abbot, Eva Glover and Rev. Desmond Ottley were married. The service was conducted by the Rev. Thomas Acland Edmonds. The two fathers acted as witnesses, together with Desmond’s brother Guy. We presume that Desmond then returned to the war which he happily survived. On 1st July 1919 Eva’s discharge record still shows her living at Goodleigh House.
1 May 2011