While many of Wing’s men went to war, life had to continue on in Wing. Those who remained shuffled roles in order to keep things ticking along, and women took the opportunity to take up new forms of employment, sometimes war-related and sometimes not.
The Wing At War website has more information about life in Wing at this time, including transcripts of most of the monthly issues of the parish magazine during World War 1.
Red Cross in Wing
The Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment at Wing held regular working parties to support hospitals, arranging bandages, splints, swabs and clothing. From the details available it looks like around an hour a week was the acceptable minimum contribution from each woman for this, while most nursing roles were full-time. The following women and men are known to have been VADs and their service cards are available from the Red Cross. It seems likely that there would have been more – one imagines that most women in Wing contributed at least a little of their time – so this list represents only those who were official volunteers. They were led by Marie de Rothschild, Commandant of the Wing Detachment.
- Emily BALDRY nursed in Liverpool during the war
- Margaret BUCKMASTER sewed for a couple of hours each week
- Annie Catherine EDWARDS of Littleworth made surgical bandages and slippers
- Sarah GRINSTEAD of Ascott held a paid full-time position, in hospitals and in working parties under the direction of Helen Tatham (below)
- Amy Grace LANGLEY nursed at hospital for a week in 1916, then assisted in working parties
- Anne MONAGHAN of Ascott spent 480 hours nursing at Aylesbury VAD Hospital in late 1914, then contributed to working parties in Wing making bandages and knitting
- Beatrice MOULD of Ascott worked in the kitchen and hospital wards at Aylesbury for eight weeks in early 1915, and subsequently produced bandages, slippers, socks and shirts
- Lily PAGE was another who tried her hand at nursing in 1916, along with bandage and slipper production
- Mary PAGE of Ascott may well have been working with Beatrice Mould in Aylesbury, and is also noted as working at hospitals in Leighton Buzzard and Sheffield and having been mentioned in dispatches for her work
- Elizabeth Alice REDRUP helped with bandages and slippers
- Marie de ROTHSCHILD of Ascott led Wing’s Detachment early on but evidently worked from the Rothschild’s Gunnersbury Park estate in Middlesex for the majority of the War
- Helen Bertha TATHAM worked part-time at the Aylesbury VAD hospital then produced surgical bandages
- Hester M TATHAM also nursed but at the 3rd London General Hospital in Wandsworth (and was mentioned in dispatches)
- Wilfred Harold WILLIS was an ambulance driver for the Red Cross in France
The Hunt at Ascott
One might have expected the hunt at Ascott to be suspended during the War, due to a shortage of men and horses (and a general sense of appropriateness), however this was evidently not the case. The following letter appeared in the Bucks Herald on 14 November 1914:
At this time of year we generally write to ask the Farmers in the Vale of Aylesbury to take down their wire.
This year we are all most anxious not to do anything that might be considered in any way a want of sympathy towards those who are fighting so gallantly at the Front or those who are suffering at home and, therefore, we hope we shall not be misunderstood in writing these few lines.
We have been asked to hunt occasionally with a view to maintaining the efficiency of our hounds which have been a source of enjoyment in years past to so many, especially officers, and which have also done much towards maintaining a supply of horses. We should, therefore, be very grateful if our Farmer friends in the Vale would remove their wire as in other years, and, needless to say, all those who wish to come out for a gallop with the staghounds will be most welcome.
We remain, Yours truly, Leopold de Rothschild, 11th November 1914.