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Ceremonies mark centenary of death of WWI nurse killed at Passchendaele

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A ceremony to mark 100 years since the death of Nellie Spindler, a British nurse killed during the First World War, was held in Leeds on Monday.

She was one of two female British casualties killed and buried in Belgium during World War One.

“Nellie Spindler embodies the values that are an abiding constant of nursing”

Christopher van D’Arque

The other was also a nurse. Elsie Mabel Gladstone, a sister with the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, died from Spanish influenza.

Ms Spindler was killed during the Third Battle of Ypres – better known as Passchendaele – shortly after 11am on 21 August 1917.

Her grave is the only one for a female among around 10,000 people buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in West Flanders. She was 26 when she was killed.

At the service held earlier this week in the chapel at St James’ Hospital in Leeds, her niece Vera Sheard laid a wreath in front of a plaque dedicated to Ms Spindler.

She said: “It is important we never forget that in the world of brave men, a number of very brave women helped many of the men home again.”

“We’re very proud of the brave contribution that Nellie made in the First World War”

Peter Box

Originally from Wakefield, Ms Spindler trained as a nurse at Township Infirmary – now known as St James’ – in Leeds before the war. She arrived in France on 23 May 1917.

By July, she was working at the 44th Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) in Brandhoek, Belgium, as a member of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service.

The Reverand Christopher van D’Arque, deputy head of chaplaincy at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Nellie Spindler embodies the values that are an abiding constant of nursing.”

“This vision remains central to Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust today, expressed in The Leeds Way values and embodied by colleagues who continue to serve within the Armed Forces with compassionate skill and courageous dedication,” he said.

World War One

Ceremonies mark centenary of WWI nurse killed at Passchendaele

Source: Wernervc

Grave of Nellie Spindler in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, 2011

The 44th CCS specialised in abdominal wounds and experienced high mortality rates. The hospital was the closest to the front where female nurses were allowed to serve and was particularly dangerous because it was next to munitions stores and a railway.

Ms Spindler was killed during the Battle of Passchendaele and was comforted as she died by another Leeds nurse, matron Minnie Wood.

Also on Monday, there was a short wreath-laying ceremony held at Wood Street, in her home town of Wakefield in Yorkshire.

Another of her nieces, Mrs Truelove, 82, told the Wakefield Express: “I think it’s remarkable that we are doing this today, it’s time. It should have been done before.”

Councillor Peter Box, leader of Wakefield Council, said: “We’re very proud of the brave contribution that Nellie made in the First World War.

“She is an inspiration and a credit to the district for her courage and the incredible sacrifice that she made to help others and support her country,” he said.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Ceremonies mark centenary of WWI nurse killed at Passchendaele

Nellie Spindler’s niece Vera Sheard (centre) with members of the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps outside the chapel at St James’ Hospital

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Ceremonies mark centenary of WWI nurse killed at Passchendaele

A plaque commemorating Nellie Spindler in St James’ Hospital, Leeds

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Ceremonies mark centenary of WWI nurse killed at Passchendaele

The service held for Nellie Spindler at the chapel in St James’ Hospital

World War One

Ceremonies mark centenary of WWI nurse killed at Passchendaele

Source: Wernervc

Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Graven

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Yes, nurses have much to be proud of and much to be thankful for (I include myself as RGN, SCM). WW1 was "The war to end wars" and many brave men, women and even children lost their lives, yet 30years later, the 2nd World War. There have been wars and rumours of wars ever since. Such terrible waste of life, limbs and property because of man's craze for power

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