Storrington Local History Group

Storrington, West Sussex – email storringtonlhg@outlook.com

Nurse Edith Ingram

Photograph courtesy of Jane and Peter Lang

31 December 1887 – 14 August 1918 

Edith Ingram is the only woman commemorated on Storrington’s Roll of Honour. She was a member of the Storrington Voluntary Aid Detachment of the British Red Cross Society. 

The Storrington branch of the Red Cross was known as Storrington 146 Detachment. It had to meet at least once a month and members worked towards gaining certificates in home nursing and first aid. They learned to bandage, do simple dressings and the basics of invalid cookery and hygiene. An entry in the West Sussex Gazette, 18 February 1915, reports that the Red Cross was holding first aid classes in the Storrington Village Hall. 

Edith was born on 31 December, 1887, in Braunton, Devon. The family moved to Washington in Sussex in 1905. By 1911 Edith’s widowed mother and brother, William, a farmer , were living at Church House in Washington Street. Edith was not listed on the Census with them at that address but information from family members says that prior to the outbreak of war she was working as a governess in Brighton. It was at some point after war broke out that she became a member of the Storrington branch of the Red Cross. 

On 2 October 1915 Edith became a ‘special service’ VAD when she started work at the 2nd Eastern General Hospital in Brighton. She was based at the hospital in Portland Road , Hove. During the war thousands of wounded soldiers were returned to Britain for hospital treatment and convalescence . Edith spent about eighteen months at the hospital in Hove before going to France on 30 April 1917 to work in the 55th General Hospital near Boulogne. This hospital had been newly set up in April at Wimereux near Boulogne. It was a ‘base’ hospital, part of the casualty evacuation chain further back from the front line. During this time, Edith earned two scarlet stripes, one on 14 October 1917 and the other on 30 January 1918. Two red “efficiency” stripes indicated that she had had at least two years continuous service in military hospitals and had proved to be a ‘competent worker’ and certificated as “efficient” by her matron and commanding officer. 

On the night of Tuesday 13th August 1918, when Edith had been nursing in France for just over fifteen months, there was an air raid over Boulogne. The war diary of the Matron-in-Chief in France records the following : “a severe air raid over Boulogne. Started shortly after 10.00 p.m. and the ‘All Clear’ not being sounded until after 2 a.m. Many bombs were dropped around Boulogne, 2 were on 55 General Hospital and the following casualties occurred among members of the nursing staff: 

Miss Edith Ingram VAD was killed, other staff wounded” 

On the 16th August, the following entry was made – 

“Miss Edith Ingram, VAD member, killed in the air raid on the night of the 13th, was buried at the Terlincthun Cemetery. Representatives of Nursing Sisters from all the Hospitals in the Boulogne area were present. 

The burial took place on Friday 16th August and she was buried with military honours” 

The Argus of Friday 25 October 1918 published a report on the death of Edith heading it “Sussex nurse’s sacrifice” and writing that she was leaving the hospital with another nurse when a bomb from an enemy aircraft exploded behind them. Edith was mortally injured and died of her wounds in the early hours of the 14th August ( evidenced by the death certificate). Some documents state that she was killed instantly as it was initially reported as such. However, such words were commonly used during World War 1 to give comfort to the relatives that no suffering had been endured. The paper described her as “a charming girl”. Apart from Edith’s name being recorded on the Storrington Roll of Honour, it was added to the Roll of Honourable Service in York Minster, a memorial dedicated to the Members of Voluntary Aid Detachments who lost their lives on active service. Edith was 30 years old when she died. 

2014 Press Release from the research by the Storrington local history group: 

https://www.westsussextoday.co.uk/news/unveiling-the-storrington-mystery-of-wwi-hero-edith-1-6242684

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