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Darley Dale, Whitworth Institute Hospital. Staff & Soldiers June 1915

In 1915 part of Whitworth Institute was taken over by the Red Cross to serve as a hospital and the swimming pool was covered over to accommodate patients who were returning from the front in ever increasing numbers. The unit was run by Dr. William Cecil Sharpe and Dr. Marie Orme, who were both the Commandants[1]. They were supported by VADs - Voluntary Aid Detachment nurses - who had been trained by the Red Cross and specialised in the care of wounded soldiers.

Here are a series of three photographs, plus enlarged sections to show who was in the images. They were taken behind the Institute in Whitworth Park.

One of the men was Lance Corporal William Henry Fowkes who arrived to recuperate at Whitworth on 1st June 1915, not long after it had opened. He was then serving with the 1/7th Battalion (the Robin Hood Btn), Sherwood Foresters. He had been gassed in the Ypres battle on 25th May 1915 and was sent back to England on the 31st of that month. He is sitting on the grass in the top picture, on the far right of the front row.

William had been in the Army since 1909, joining the Territorial Force for a period of four years[21]. When he enlisted he was just over 17 years of age and was then a Turner by trade. Like many others he attended various camps before the War. He became a Lance Corporal on 14 Aug 1914 and went to France with the Expeditionary Force on the 8th Feb 1915.

Following his spell in Whitworth he was discharged back to his regiment in Nottingham on 3rd July, which means that all three photographs here were taken between 1 June and 3 July 1915.

Enlargement of LHS of top photo.
Note the crutches and the studs on the soles of the army boots.
None of these soldiers has been identified.
Enlargement of RHS of top photo.
Soldiers and a VAD nurse, probably the senior nurse. One soldier is holding a swagger stick.
W. H. Fowkes is in the front row, on the far right.

Second Image and enlargements

Enlargement of LHS of 2nd photo.
William is sitting on the far left of the 2nd row, in front of the nurse.
No other soldier in the group has ben identified.
Enlargement of RHS of 2nd photo.
There are 4 VAD nurses on this side of the picture.
None of the soldiers has been identified.
One soldier is wearing a sling and there are a few walking sticks,
but most of the injuries these men had sustained are unseen.

Third Image and enlargements

Surprise visit by the Duchess of Devonshire, 8 June 1915,
who visited the 27 British wounded.

Enlargement of LHS of 3rd photo.
The Duchess of Devonshire is seated on the second row, second from the left, between a nurse and a wounded.
William is standing in the next to back row, 4th from the left of the soldiers.
No other soldier or VAD nurse has been identified. However, Miss Siddall of Darley Dale
(later Mrs. Hibbitt) is known to have been one of the nurses.
Enlargement of RHS of 3rd photo.
Unidentified soldiers and VAD nurses.
Lady Maud Cavendish, who accompanied her mother, is seated on the second row,
2nd from the right (wearing a dark coat, with a red cross badge).
Dr. Marie Orme is seated in the second row, far left.

William was transferred to civil employment with the Raleigh Cycle Co. in Nottingham in late 1915 and was eventually discharged in April 1916 having served with the Territorial Force for 7 years.

If you have any further information about the soldiers, the nurses or the hospital at this time, or if you would like to contact John Bentley with more about William, his wife's grandfather, please email the web mistress. See footer for contact details.

Three photographs of W. H. Fowkes and the Whitworth Institute staff in the collection of, provided by and © John Bentley who also provided information about W. H. Fowkes.
Researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] "Derbyshire Courier", 15 June 1915. Duchess Visits Wounded. Also "Derby Daily Telegraph", 9 June 1915.

[2] Army service records are available on FindMyPast. Not all records have survived.

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VAD nurse in the Vernon Lamb Archive