Valiant Women

When talking of Valiant Women, its not just Nurses and Doctors. We include women and girls of all nations and all walks of life. Some women volunteered and went to war, some worked in Munitions, others worked on the roads and driving etc. 


These women opened up a whole new way of life for us women of today and we should be so grateful to them for carrying the torch that showed us the way.

Below you will find details of just some of these awesome women.  With your help we hope to expand our knowledge.  If you know of any extra information we can add in or you would like to share the stories of your own particular Valiant Women we would love to hear from you.  Just send them in to us at wenches2014@gmail.com

Rita Mary Bennetts

Rita was born in Penzance 1893 and trained as a nurse at Penzance infirmary. We cant find any proof that she served abroad during the Great War even though her Red Cross record says she did. Please, if you can help us with this do let us know.  Rita died on Armistice day 1918 after a brief illness at the Welsh Hospital, Netley.  Her coffin was taken on a gun carraige to the railway station covered in wreaths and a Union Flag.  She is buried in Pendeen churchyard near Penzance Cornwall.  She is also on the village war memorial in said churchyard.

FUNERAL AT PENDEEN

- taken from The Cornishman newspaper 1918

We regret to chronicle the death of Nursing Sister Reta (sic) Mary Bennetts, daughter of Mrs Bennetts of Merivale House, Trewellard, Pendeen, who passed away after a very brief illness at the Welsh Hospital Netley, where she was held in high esteem.

Deceased spent some time in the Penzance Infirmary, where she was highly esteemed.  Mrs Bennetts and family have the deepest sympathy of all in their irreparable loss.  The remains were taken from Netley Hospital to the railway station, the coffin was covered with wreaths and the Union Jack.  The nurses and staff of Netley Hospital followed the coffin to the station.  The remains were then brought to Trewellard.  The interment took place on Sunday in the presence of hundreds of sympathisers, the church choir were present and sang deceased’s favourite hymns. The Rev B Lumb officiated. The “Dead March” was played by Miss White.  The coffin was of polished pitch pine with massive brass mountings, with the inscription “Nursing Sister Reta Mary Bennetts, died November 11th, 1918, aged 25 years.” 

The mourners were: Mr J Bennetts (brother), Mrs Bennetts (mother), Mr H Ellis (brother-in-law), Mrs H Ellis (sister), and Mrs Semmens (sister), Mr E White (cousin), Miss D Bennetts (sister), and Mrs J Rodda (aunt), Mr J Roberts, Mrs J Roberts, Mr F Curnow, Mrs F Curnow (cousins), Mrs J Oats (aunt), Miss M Rodda, Mr WR Warren, Miss M White, Miss B Warren (cousins), Mr E Watkinson (London), Miss Ash (Newlyn), Drs Miller and Branwell (Penzance), Mrs E White, Mrs H White, Mrs C Williams, Miss M Williams (cousins), Drs Page and Edwards (Penzance), the Matron West Cornwall Infirmary, and Sister Webb (Penzance). The bearers were: Messrs J Morrish, J James, W Thomas, J King, H Trembath, T Sedgeman, WJ Nankervis and E Tresize. The undertaker was Mr J Maddern, Trewellard who acted for Mr Hosking.

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The floral tributes were as follows:- cross, white chrysanthemums and ferns, from Mother, John and Dorothy, “In loving remembrance of our dear Rita”; wreath, white chrysanthemums and pink roses, “In sweet remembrance,” from Harry, Bertha and children; cross, “In sweetest and loving remembrance of one of the best” from Sally, Charlie, Daisy and Rhoda: wreath, cream roses, white and purple chrysanthemums, “With deepest sympathy”, from Mr, Mrs and Miss Williams, “Tregeseal House,” St Just; cross, chrysanthemums, “With heartfelt sympathy and in kindest remembrance,” from the medical staff West Cornwall Infirmary, Penzance; wreath, “A token of affection and esteem,” from the Matron, the Nursing and Domestic Staff, West Cornwall Infirmary, Penzance; laurel emblem, “With deepest sympathy,” from members of “Trained Nurses Club”; anchor, “With deepest sympathy,” from WH Brumly and Robert Banyon, West Cornwall Infirmary; artificial wreath, globe, “In loving memory of our dear friend Rita.” “There is one link death cannot sever, Sweet remembrances live for ever,” from Louis, Mrs Ash, and Mrs Trewavas; rose spray, “In loving memory of my darling Benney,” from her little girl, Louis Trewavas; cross, from “Boy,” in memory of many happy hours; wreath white chrysanthemums and ferns and ivy, “With deepest sympathy of teachers and bible classes of Pendeen Church and Sunday School, Rev B Lumb; spray, chrysanthemums and fern, from Miss M White; wreath, white chrysanthemums and ferns, “With deepest sympathy,” from Mrs Nankerris and Mrs Andrewartha; cross, white chrysanthemums and fern, “With deepest sympathy”, from patients H Ward, Welsh Hospital, Netley; crown, arum lilies, carnations, and palm leaves, from Lt Col Cook, RAMC, medical officer and members of nursing staff, “In loving remembrance”; heart, white chrysanthemums, pink and white roses and fern, from members of the Welsh Committee, Netley, “With deepest sympathy.”

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Armorel Kitty Trevelyan

Kitty was the daughter of Georgina and Capt. Walter Raleigh Trevelyan, of Furry Park, Raheny, Co. Dublin and she was just 17 years old when she went to Northern France to volunteer on a coffee stall.  She was accompanied by her mother who soon realised it wasn't right for her and came home, leaving Kitty in the care of others.  Once Kitty turned 18 she signed on with Army Canteens and happily worked doing all jobs given to her.  In February 1917 she contracted measles which quickly turned to meningitis from which she sadly died, aged just 19.

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The hamlet of Meavy where she lived on Dartmoor recorded her on the roll of honour in the church, but left her name off the tiny war memorial. In 2016, the Wenches petitioned the council for permission to add her name to the granite block which is the memorial. Permission was given and we engaged a memorial mason to do the work, kindly paid for by our patron Miss Sarah Phelps (Crimson Field)

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On 26th February 2017 just one day short of the centenary of her death, we gathered at the memorial along with her Great Nephew, Oliver, and his wife plus many local people and friends, the girls from Wenches and the Somerset and Devon Fire service band. The Rev Nick Shutt, vicar of Meavy, conducted a lovely service and the memorial was unveiled.  After 100 years in the dark we were able to shine a light on this beautiful young girl who never got a chance to live a full life.

Kitty is buried in plot III. F. 4. in Wimereux Communal Cemetery, Northern France. We visit her often to say thank you.

Nellie Spindler

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