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New blue plaque finally celebrates nurse from First World War

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A Welsh nurse who served with the French army in World War 1 has finally been honoured with a blue plaque in her home town of Newport.

Annie Mistrick (nee Brewer) was living in Paris in 1914 when war broke out. A qualified nurse who had worked at hospitals in Chester and London, she decided to join a French hospital and ambulance group.

“What Annie showed is what all good nurses have – a tremendous spirit of sacrifice”

Peter Strong

She served throughout the 1914-18 conflict at battles including Verdun, the Marne and Somme, often very close to the front line.

On one occasion her ambulance was hit and she was wounded in the head and leg. Another time the hospital she was in came under shellfire. Her bravery later earned her the Legion d’Honneur, the highest French order of merit, as well as the Croix de Guerre.

She married French ambulance driver, Daniel Mistrik but returned to Newport in 1921 to care for her mother. Shortly afterwards she died aged just 46 from kidney disease.

The Western Front Association, which campaigns to preserve the memory of those who died in the war, has campaigned for a memorial plaque in Newport’s West Street.

This week’s plaque unveiling was attended by Ms Mistrick’s relatives, Welsh government secretary for health and social care Vaughan Gething, Newport West assembly member Jayne Bryant and Newport Council leader Debbie Wilcox.

Western Front Association

New blue plaque finally celebrates nurse from First World War

Annie Brewer’s blue plaque

“Proud to unveil a Blue Plaque for WW1 nurse Annie Mistrick (nee Brewer) in West Street, Newport. A remarkable, brave woman who risked her life to help others,” Ms Bryant posted on the social media site Twitter.

Guests at the ceremony heard details of her bravery, such as when she helped with 229 operations in seven days at the battle of Verdun showing “absolute disregard for danger”.

Until now her bravery had been “absolutely overlooked” at home, said Peter Strong, chair of the Western Front Association’s Gwent branch.

“Although she’s buried at a local cemetery, she doesn’t have a war grave,” said Mr Strong. He now hopes to get the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to put her on their register.

Mr Strong said he believed she was an example to all nurses even in peacetime.

“What Annie showed is what all good nurses have – a tremendous spirit of sacrifice, putting others before her own welfare and staying strong in incredibly different circumstances,” he added.

 

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