Nurse buried in East Ham was ‘war casualty’

The remains of a nurse who died on active service during the First World War will be re-consecrated after the Commonwealth War Graves Commission recognised her as a war casualty.

VAD Nurse (Voluntary Aid Detachment) Edith Hilda Munro died on active service on December 12 1916 aged 23 years. She was buried privately at Plashet Jewish cemetery in East Ham. She was a nurse at the Dreadnought Seamen’s Hospital in Greenwich, daughter of John Munro, a Scots engineer, and Leah Nathan who was born in Bow.

She was living in Hackney and one of four children (Harold, Douglas and Gwen) but was never recognised as a war casualty.

Several years ago AJEX (Association of Jewish Ex-Service Men and Women) researcher Harold Pollins of Oxford, former Ruskin College Oxford lecturer, discovered her grave at Plashet and passed the information to AJEX Jewish Military Museum Archivist and author, Martin Sugarman. They discovered that Edith is named in the Jewish Chronicle as having died in war time service nursing sailors andis listed in the British Jewry Book of Honour of WW1.

Following submission of research by Pollins and Sugarman, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has recognised Edith as a war casualty and there are plans to have a re-consecration service at the cemetery in due course. Readers who are related to the family or know surviving family members are urged to contact Martin on 07758 821561 or at AJEX HQ in Hendon, so that a photograph and family background about Edith can be put together for the proposed ceremony.

The VAD was founded in 1909 in cooperation with the Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance and were volunteer nurses who worked in war zones in WW1 and WW2 in the Imperial/Commonwealth Forces. The women made themselves indispensable in front line hospital duties and earned a reputation for courage and calmness under fire. Famous VADs included actress Hattie Jacques, Amelia Earhart the aviatrix, and Agatha Christie. Many died in the flu epidemic of 1918 while nursing sick soldiers, or contracted fatal illnesses from the frequently infected wounds of soldiers.