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Marjorie Smyth 1892 - 1958

 

   

Marjorie, my father's aunt, was born 12 Jan 1892, in Cheshire, daughter to Caroline and Alfred Battersby Smyth. She grew up and remained for the most part of her life in the Tattenhall area.

In 1909 it was decided to form a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VADs) to provide medical assistance in time of war. By the summer of 1914 there were over 2,500 Voluntary Aid Detachments in Britain. Of the 74,000 VADs in 1914, two-thirds were women and girls.

In 1915, Marjorie qualified as a V.A.D nurse at Roehampton Hospital, in London. (Marjorie, middle row, third from left)

Some time afterwards, she returned home to Chester where she joined Remount Depot No 2, which was set up by Miss Dorothy Ravenscroft. This was home to approximately 40 horses at any one time, from 1917 through to the end of the WW1. She worked here until the end of the war. The accounts book for Remount Depot No. 2, which Marjorie passed onto my father, gives details about the number of horses cared for, the amount of bran, oats, hay, straw etc used daily. It logs the receipts for period 18th August 1917 and issues through to the last entry 27th December 1918.

There were at least two remount depots in Chester, Remount Depot No. 1 being set up by Miss E G Bather, details of which can be found in Barbara McLaren's Women of the War (pub. 1917). In this account, Barbara McLaren also makes reference to Miss Dorothy Ravenscroft complete with picture. We have identified Dorothy in a number of Marjorie's photos, of which we have two albums recording everyday life in the depot - more of these to be added to the website shortly.

There were 12 girls helping in both remount depots, familiarly known as 'lads'. This was not work for the faint-hearted! The horses were typically officer's cobs and chargers, being prepared for active service.

'The girl workers do the entire work of the stables, as well as the exercising, grooming and feeding of the horses'. The girl workers needed to be chosen carefully, 'the work is far too great a strain, physically and mentally for girls under the age of twenty... one's nerves need to be made of iron'.

From the photos it is evident that much care and nursing of injured horses was also documented, presumably of horses returning from the front.

In 1918, she bought The Grove, Tattenhall. Following her mother's death in 1921, her father came to live with her at the Grove, where he died in 1924. She spent the latter part of her life living in Sibbersfield Cottage, in the grounds of Sibbersfield Hall. Accounts also exist for a period at Sibbersfield Hall and the Grove (1926). Purchases of meat and fish, bread, 1s 6d to the charwoman, household washing at 2s gives a brief insight into life at Sibbersfield Hall, which now has a historical society charting the history of the house from 1931 - 1974 www.sibbersfield.com .


Marjorie died 16 Dec 1958 and is buried in Tattenhall Churchyard.