Exploring Medal Rolls - The Victorian Wars

Victorian Wars

The Zulu War: During the Zulu War there were a number of base hospitals including Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Ladysmith, Utrecht and Newcastle. Most of the sickness that occurred was from enteric fevers, something that was to be repeated in the Boer War1. Below is one of the pages from the medal roll for the campaign in South Africa2. It is one of the two occasions where nurses appeared on the medal rolls. You can see that they are annotated as being Nursing Staff of the Medical Department as there was no separate Nursing Department at this time. You will also see that there are some alterations to the document. Nursing Sisters have never been authorised to wear clasps that depict specific battles on their campaign medals as they were (and are still) regarded as non-combatant.

Extract from Zulu War Medal Roll
The National Archives: WO 100/61 p32 Medal roll for Egypt

 The nurses listed are:

  • Lady Superintendent Mrs JC. Deeble
  • Nurse Mary Leonard
  • Nurse Jane Gray
  • Nurse Harriet Williams
  • Nurse Anne Crisp
  • Nurse Margaret Selby
  • Nurse Alice Hawtley

The Egyptian Campaigns: During the Egyptian campaigns (1882-1888) there were eight Field Hospitals (nominally of 200 beds) and two Base Hospitals (nominally of 500 beds) Two Hospital Ships were stationed at Ismailia – the Carthage, and the Courland3. A total of 25 Army Nursing Service (ANS) nurses were sent out from England to support the medical care to the sick and wounded4. Below is one of the pages from the medal roll for the campaign in Egypt4, the only other medal roll that exists for this period.

Extract from the Medal Roll for Egypt
The National Archives: WO 100/61 p32 Medal roll for Egypt

From this page, plus pages 48 & 49, we can see that four nurses were allocated to the Hospital Ship Carthage (Superintendent Stewart, Sisters Fellowes, King and Solly). Four nurses were sent to the Base Hospital at Alexandria (Superintendent Jerrard, Sisters Walsh, Winterton and Young). Seven nurses served at the other Base Hospital in Ismailia (Superintendent Caulfield, Sisters Lloyd, Close, Selby, Crisp, Gray and Wallace). As you can see, some of these nurses also served in South Africa.

A Superintendent and four nurses were also based at each of the hospitals in Cyprus and Gozo3.

References

  1. Woolfryes, Surgeon-General J.A. (1879) Medical History of the War in Zululand, 1879. Army Medical Department Report. London: HMSO
  2. The National Archives: WO 100/47 p32 Medal roll for South Africa 1877-79
  3. Goodrich, C. F. (1883). Report of the British naval and military operations in Egypt, 1882. Washington: G.P.O.
  4. The National Archives: WO 100/61 p32 Medal roll for Egypt