She was born in Derbyshire about 1891. Father was Daniel Fletcher and mother was Mary Fletcher (née Kelly). She was one of 12 children. They lived in Spital, Derbyshire. Daniel Fletcher was a coal miner but became a nurseryman by the time of WW1 when they lived in the Spital Nurseries 1 2 3. We think she trained as a nurse at Bradford Hospital 4.
Her brother Pte Charles Fletcher 12th Bn. Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) was killed on the Somme on the 3rd September 1916 5.
Her sister, Mary Ellen Fletcher trained as a nurse at The Township Infirmary, Leeds and joined the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (Reserve) in October 1915 as a Staff Nurse (subsequently becoming a Sister). She served until the 12th March 1919 having spent all of her service with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF). She asked to resign on the 8th June 1918 to get married but withdrew it as her fiancé was sent to sea and the marriage was postponed 6.
Nursing Service in the First World War
She joined the Territorial Force Nursing Service (TFNS) 7 on May 7th 1915 as a Staff Nurse and was posted to the East Leeds War Hospital (2nd Northern General Hospital) 8. She remained there until she had to resign on the grounds of ill health 9. Medical Board reports indicate she contracted tuberculosis early in 1917 and by June she had left the service and was admitted to the Walton Sanatorium. As with all nurses who contracted tuberculosis her illness was described as ‘in’ but not ‘by’ her service 10 11.
The Matron-in-Chief of the TFNS was Sidney Browne who wrote to the Local Government Board in Whitehall to get a Sanatorium space for her. She was admitted to the Walton Sanatorium, nr. Chesterfield, Derbyshire on the 27th June 1917. She was awarded the Silver War Badge in 1917 12. She died at home on 14th March 1918 13 14.
Derbyshire Courier 23 March 1918
“Heroic sacrifice, the result of untiring devotion to duty in nursing wounded soldiers fresh from the battlefields, was made by Nurse Ann Veronica Fletcher, (22), who died at her home, Spital House, Chesterfield, on Thursday last week. She was the third daughter of Mr. and Mrs. D. Fletcher. A little over six years ago she commenced training as a nurse at Bradford Hospital. In March, 1916, she enrolled in the Territorial Imperial Nursing Force and for over two years did yeoman service at East Leeds War Hospital in nursing serious cases of wounded soldiers. Overwork and exposure undermined her constitution, and in April last year she was invalided home on pension suffering from phthisis. Her health rapidly declined, but it was not until Christmas last she had to take to her bed. Whilst on one of his visits to the hospital the King complimented Nurse Fletcher upon her skilful bandaging. She was a member of Chesterfield Catholic Church, whither the body was taken on Tuesday, and remained until the interment at Chesterfield Cemetery on Wednesday. She received all the sacraments of the Church and Requiem mass was also held. Eight members of the 2nd (Chesterfield) Battalion of the Derbyshire Volunteer Regt. officiated as bearers. The mourners were the father and mother. Misses Margaret, K., M., W., L., T., and C. Fletcher (sisters), Mr. J. Fletcher (brother), Mrs. C. Fletcher and Mrs. J. Fletcher (sister-in-law). Nurse M. Fletcher, did service as “lady of the lamp” at the Dardanelles and is at present in Palestine. One of their sons, Pte. Charles Fletcher, died of wounds received in action during the battle of the Somme.”
- 1891 England Census RG12; Piece: 2746; Folio: 4; Page: 2
- 1901 England Census Class: RG13; Piece: 3247; Folio: 151; Page: 24
- 1911 England Census Class: RG14; Piece: 28193
- The Derbyshire Courier, March 23rd 1918, p.1
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- The National Archives, War Office: WO 399/2783
- The Territorial Force Nursing Service (TFNS) was originally formed to staff the territorial force hospitals at home, and the majority of its members spent their wartime service in the United Kingdom, not only in the 25 territorial hospitals, but also in hundreds of auxiliary units throughout the British Isles. Within a short time they were also employed in the eighteen territorial hospitals abroad, and alongside their QAIMNS colleagues in military hospitals and casualty clearing stations in France, Belgium, Malta, Salonica, Gibraltar, Egypt, Mesopotamia and East Africa.
- In March 1915, the Leeds Guardians offered the Leeds Workhouse and Infirmary to the War Office for the accommodation of sick and wounded soldiers. The existing workhouse inmates were transferred to the Hunslet workhouse and the Leeds premises became the East Leeds War Hospital. Wounded soldiers from the battle-front in France arrived in Leeds by train and were transferred to the hospital by a fleet of army and Red Cross Ambulances.
- Pulmonary Tuberculosis was one of the major diseases amongst troops in WW1 and many nurses were discharged the service because of TB. At that time there was little diagnostic capability for TB and no antibiotic therapies.
- The National Archives, War Office: WO 399/11267
- People have queried this as they assume she contracted TB from one of the patients. However, as nurses had cursory medicals (no Chest X-Ray for example) before joining, and as there were no diagnostics for TB, the view was that soldiers or nurses with TB may well have had it before entering service. Hence this categorisation
- Silver War Badge Records 1914-1920 p.279
- The Derbyshire Courier, March 23rd 1918, p.1