Female medical officers in WW1?

#1
I hope I can impose upon you to help a civvie. I've lurked for some years - got clued in at Messybeast - but never posted until now.

Family history has it that my grandmother, Dr CMC MacNeil, was an officer in WW1. One of the first female officers, allegedly. Unfortunately I find myself unable to get any details. She died when I was small, and was apparently rather traumatised by events and barely spoke of it to her children.

She was a doctor, initially at Seafield, then later somewhere in France, where she may have practiced as a surgeon.

She held a sketchbook for the use of her patients and I've put scans here.

I've been in contact with the National Archive at Kew who say they destroyed these sort of records in the 1920s, and other records were destroyed during WW2. I've checked with the RAMC and FANY who have no record of her. Where should I go from here? Is it possible she was commissioned into the French or Belgian military?

My father is most adamant about her having been an officer, as are other members of the family who knew her, and it would be nice to get complete details.
 
#3
From the Western Front Association site http://www.westernfrontassociation.com/great-war-on-land/78-cas-med/356-r-a-m-c.html

The Great War
The key to the effectiveness of the RAMC in the Great War was inevitably bound up in the availability of trained medical staff and, in particular, medical, surgical and dental officers. Fortunately, the RAMC was able to recruit ample numbers of qualified medical officers, surgeons and paramedical staff from the UK civil population. By the end of the war nearly 13,000 doctors (50% percent of all UK civilian doctors) had been recruited into the armed forces; often to the detriment, it must be said, of the health care of the UK civilian population. Initially, women doctors were robustly refused the opportunity to serve on active service, but the inexorable demands of the War meant their role was slowly expanded to all the many theatres of war. However, no female doctor was commissioned in the RAMC in the Great War.

Long before the time of Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), there had been female military matrons and nurses. In the Great War, female matrons and nurses served in increasing numbers with the Queen Alexandra's Royal Imperial Nursing Service - QARINS (now Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps - QARANC). Many women - doctors and paramedics - chose to work for the duration in the war-time medical services outside of the aegis of the RAMC/QARINS, e.g. The Red Cross and the Women's Hospital Organisation - WHO. (Not to be confused with the World Health Organisation which was founded in 1948).
 
#4
What a magnificent sketch-book!
 
#5
Nothing's turned up. Is it possible she was an officer in a foreign military - French or Belgian? How would I find out?

Edit: the GMC have outsourced their history files to a service which wants money, which I don't have at the moment.
 

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#6
Quartz said:
Nothing's turned up. Is it possible she was an officer in a foreign military - French or Belgian? How would I find out?

Edit: the GMC have outsourced their history files to a service which wants money, which I don't have at the moment.
Which one?
 
#8
Quartz said:
oldbaldy said:
Quartz said:
Edit: the GMC have outsourced their history files to a service which wants money, which I don't have at the moment.
Which one?
Ancestry.co.uk
When I first read this thread I looked on Ancestry for a medal card for her, and there wasn't one.

Looking on there today, I assume she was Celia Mary Colquhoun MacNeil, of 124 The Terrace, Richmond, Surrey, registered 12 July 1913, MB ChB Uni. Edinburgh. If you want specifics let me know, and I'll have a poke around.

I can't find anything else anywhere in the military records on the site that mentions her.
 
#9
Try the Museum at Keogh Bks, I'm not at work at the moment due to some family matters so can't find the contact details just now. I'm sure someone here can find them though.
 

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#10
Cracking album - might she have been with the Red Cross or St Johns Ambulance? She may have had medals from them. With regard to her being an officer as a doctor she would most lickley have been referred to or even appointed as an MO - Medical Officer by whoever she was working for without being a commissioned military officer.
 
#11
A lot of the sketches mention "Leith War Hospital", presumably as the soldiers' posting. The CWGC identifies this as Leith Infirmary; it is very probable that it was later called Leith Hospital.

Another sketch in the album mentions Seafield War Hospital; this site (with pictures and maps) indicates that this was a wartime conversion of the Seafield Road Poorhouse (not to be confused with Seafield Hospital in Morayshire), and in 1930 became the Eastern General Hospital (as an aside, I was sent there for an X-ray just before it closed...). These two sites are quite close together.


This short history of Leith Hospital
states that it was used by Dr. Sophia Jex-Blake for teaching female medical students - given that angular's helpful information tells us that Dr. MacNeil graduated from Edinburgh University in 1913, it's possible that she trained there and was a doctor there come wartime.

The "Edinburgh in Pictures" website has an article on Leith Hospital - it contains links to the NHS records for the hospital.

You could try talking to the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh; and to Edinburgh University. Otherwise, I'm all googled out...

...not quite - here's Leith Hospital on Streetview... and here's a link to the Lothian Health Board archives for Leith Hospital.

...While the panorama sketched by T.M.Scott from the 5th Durham Light Infantry (150 Bde, 50 Div) is of the battlefield at Worlencourt, with a view to Le Sars and the Butte de Worlencourt. You could attempt to date it as "no later than" the last date that the Butte was captured.
 

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#12
angular said:
Quartz said:
oldbaldy said:
Quartz said:
Edit: the GMC have outsourced their history files to a service which wants money, which I don't have at the moment.
Which one?
Ancestry.co.uk
When I first read this thread I looked on Ancestry for a medal card for her, and there wasn't one.

Looking on there today, I assume she was Celia Mary Colquhoun MacNeil, of 124 The Terrace, Richmond, Surrey, registered 12 July 1913, MB ChB Uni. Edinburgh. If you want specifics let me know, and I'll have a poke around.

I can't find anything else anywhere in the military records on the site that mentions her.
Could be the lady, married Cromwell Stephens 1st qtr 1923.

What a great Christian name.
 
#13
Gravelbelly said:
A lot of the sketches mention "Leith War Hospital", presumably as the soldiers' posting. The CWGC identifies this as Leith Infirmary; it is very probable that it was later called Leith Hospital.

Another sketch in the album mentions Seafield War Hospital; this site (with pictures and maps) indicates that this was a wartime conversion of the Seafield Road Poorhouse (not to be confused with Seafield Hospital in Morayshire), and in 1930 became the Eastern General Hospital (as an aside, I was sent there for an X-ray just before it closed...). These two sites are quite close together.


This short history of Leith Hospital
states that it was used by Dr. Sophia Jex-Blake for teaching female medical students - given that angular's helpful information tells us that Dr. MacNeil graduated from Edinburgh University in 1913, it's possible that she trained there and was a doctor there come wartime.

The "Edinburgh in Pictures" website has an article on Leith Hospital - it contains links to the NHS records for the hospital.

You could try talking to the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh; and to Edinburgh University. Otherwise, I'm all googled out...

...not quite - here's Leith Hospital on Streetview... and here's a link to the Lothian Health Board archives for Leith Hospital.

...And here's an indication that the panorama was sketched by someone from the 5th Durham Light Infantry (150 Bde, 50 Div) of the battlefield at Worlencourt, with a view to Le Sars and the Butte de Worlencourt.
also may be worth contacting http://www.nms.ac.uk/our_museums/war_museum.aspx

I saw a photo of a FANY with a medal when I was there so may be worth asking them
 
B

Biscuits_AB

Guest
#14
Poppy said:
Gravelbelly said:
A lot of the sketches mention "Leith War Hospital", presumably as the soldiers' posting. The CWGC identifies this as Leith Infirmary; it is very probable that it was later called Leith Hospital.

Another sketch in the album mentions Seafield War Hospital; this site (with pictures and maps) indicates that this was a wartime conversion of the Seafield Road Poorhouse (not to be confused with Seafield Hospital in Morayshire), and in 1930 became the Eastern General Hospital (as an aside, I was sent there for an X-ray just before it closed...). These two sites are quite close together.


This short history of Leith Hospital
states that it was used by Dr. Sophia Jex-Blake for teaching female medical students - given that angular's helpful information tells us that Dr. MacNeil graduated from Edinburgh University in 1913, it's possible that she trained there and was a doctor there come wartime.

The "Edinburgh in Pictures" website has an article on Leith Hospital - it contains links to the NHS records for the hospital.

You could try talking to the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh; and to Edinburgh University. Otherwise, I'm all googled out...

...not quite - here's Leith Hospital on Streetview... and here's a link to the Lothian Health Board archives for Leith Hospital.

...And here's an indication that the panorama was sketched by someone from the 5th Durham Light Infantry (150 Bde, 50 Div) of the battlefield at Worlencourt, with a view to Le Sars and the Butte de Worlencourt.
also may be worth contacting http://www.nms.ac.uk/our_museums/war_museum.aspx

I saw a photo of a FANY with a medal when I was there so may be worth asking them
I've seen plenty of photo's of fannies wearing medals, but I think we may be talking about different fannies.
 
#15
oldbaldy said:
angular said:
Quartz said:
oldbaldy said:
Quartz said:
Edit: the GMC have outsourced their history files to a service which wants money, which I don't have at the moment.
Which one?
Ancestry.co.uk
When I first read this thread I looked on Ancestry for a medal card for her, and there wasn't one.

Looking on there today, I assume she was Celia Mary Colquhoun MacNeil, of 124 The Terrace, Richmond, Surrey, registered 12 July 1913, MB ChB Uni. Edinburgh. If you want specifics let me know, and I'll have a poke around.

I can't find anything else anywhere in the military records on the site that mentions her.
Could be the lady, married Cromwell Stephens 1st qtr 1923.

What a great Christian name.
Yes, and I thought it might have been a double marriage at the Church but, I reckon that the transcribers at www.freebmd.org.uk got it wrong in one instance!

Marriages Mar 1923

Hessey Lilian L Pye Chelsea 1a 668
Pye George T I Hessey Chelsea 1a 668

MacNeil Celia M C Stephens Chelsea 1a 668
MacNeil Mary C Stephens Chelsea 1a 668
Stephens Cromwell A MacNeil Chelsea 1a 668

No trace of a birth for her, so it either hasn't been transcribed or she wasn't born in England and Wales.

Litotes
 
#16
angular said:
Quartz said:
oldbaldy said:
Quartz said:
Edit: the GMC have outsourced their history files to a service which wants money, which I don't have at the moment.
Which one?
Ancestry.co.uk
When I first read this thread I looked on Ancestry for a medal card for her, and there wasn't one.

Looking on there today, I assume she was Celia Mary Colquhoun MacNeil, of 124 The Terrace, Richmond, Surrey, registered 12 July 1913, MB ChB Uni. Edinburgh. If you want specifics let me know, and I'll have a poke around.
That's her. I'd appreciate whatever you can find on her.
 
#18
It's an unusual name so it is easy to jump to the obvious conclusion that this is her husband:

Births Dec 1880

Stephens Cromwell Alfred W. Derby 8b 508

If it is, then he was 43 at the time of his marriage.

There aren't any obvious children to this couple on FreeBMD but the transcription of the indexes is still underway.

Litotes
 
#19
If you can tell me roughly when and where she died, I can try to fish out the reference for you (Stephens is a popular name). You can then buy the death certificate.

Litotes
 
#20
They didn't show up on my first search (no idea why...) but then I found:

Births Mar 1925 (>99%)

Stephens Celia M R MacNeil Richmond S. 2a 813

Births Sep 1926 (>99%)

Stephens Thomas N M McNeil Richmond S. 2a 876a

Litotes
 

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