Saturday, 3 January 2009

Lest we forget: Daisy Aletta Fitzhenry, South African nurse,1888-1918

In the post for the fallen combatants of the Great War, one name stood out because not only was she the only woman on the list, but she was a nurse rather than a soldier.
Here's a bit more about Daisy and the South African Fitzhenry connection.This has been mainly pieced together from painstaking transcriptions of the Uitenhage and Graaff Reinet Methodist Records by Ellen Stanton and Nolene Lossau.
These records are spread across multiple postings on the Rootsweb South Africa British Immigrants messageboard.

Daisy Aletta Fitzhenry was born in South Africa on 30 July 1888 to John Arthur and Kate Fitzhenry (nee Cawood). She was baptised on 16 November 1888 at the Uitenhage Methodist Church and her baptism is number 221 in the register. Uitenhage is is the Eastern Cape Province, inland from Port Elizabeth.
She had at least 4 siblings:
William Henry (b. 15 December 1886)
Sidney Cawood (b. 22 October 1890)
Florence Ann (b. 13 April 1892, married Cecil Rhodes Dobrowsky in 1922)
Kate (b. 23 June 1893)
Her mother Kate died on the same date as her sister Kate's birth, presumably in childbirth.
John Arthur married again to Hester Sargeant Patrick in April 1895, and they had at least one son
Arthur Raymond (b. 6 December 1896).

Daisy joined the South African Military Nursing Service and served with the combined Allied troops in Southern Africa. Politically, the South Africans and British combining military forces was a significant occasion after the bitter battles of the Boer war less than 20 years before when the concentration camps had claimed the lives of many South Africans.
She served in the military hospital at Dodoma in Tanzania. Dodoma was occupied by the South African troops in 1916 and the military hospital was used as a casualty clearing station.

Daisy was mentioned in dispatches in the London Gazette (6th August 1918 page 9228, although in the Gazette search engine the published date is 2nd August) with numerous other soldiers and Allied support personnel. She is listed as a nursing Sister rather then having a military title. Here's the whole list and it's amazing how many soldiers from throughout the old British Empire were here fighting in Africa. Someone would be "mentioned in dispatches" for a brave or noteworthy action in the field on battle, and received a certificate and a silver oak leaf to wear on their dress uniform.

Although the war in Europe finished on 11th November 1918, the war in East Africa continued until the German surrender on 23 November 1918 (the date the news of the German surrender in Europe was received by the German commander in Africa). By this time, an influenza epidemic was sweeping this part of the continent through a population weakened by years of famine. Between 50-80,000 people died (Here's more about the famine). Daisy died on 1 December 1918 (cause of death not known to me) and is buried in Dodoma cemetery.

In 1925 the Journal of the Royal College of Nursing (England) published an article listing those nurses from the Overseas Nursing Services who had died as a result of the combat and requesting donations for a memorial to be placed in the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Women's Hospital in London. This article is reproduced here. Daisy's name is amongst those listed.

If anyone out there has any more information about Daisy Aletta Fitzhenry, please write into the blog and let us know more about her. In the next post, more about Daisy's family tree.

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1 comment:

    Her Death Notice