EDITH MUNRO: Newham pays respects to WWI nurse

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London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via The Newham Mag, KAY ATWAL, IAIN BURNS, Newham Recorder and contributors.

 

Military veterans and members of the Jewish community paid their respects this month to a Newham, east London nurse who gave her life in active service for the country at a special memorial service this past week, council magazine The Newham Mag reports.

The nurse, Edith Hilda Munro, was born in a well-off household in Hackney, the daughter of Scottish engineer John Munro, and local Leah Nathan, and had three brothers and sisters. She first began her illustrious career in the Albert Dock Seaman’s Hospital of Custom House, in the south of the London borough, before finding work with the Voluntary Aid Detachment shortly after it was founded in 1909, a group which sent nurses to treat the injured in war zones. Upon the outbreak of World War I, Munro tended to soldiers injured in the battlefields of Europe.

First World War recruitment poster for the Vol...
First World War recruitment poster for the Voluntary Aid Detachment . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tragically, Munro contracted acute bronchopneumonia, a dangerous lung disease. She then developed heart failure and passed away at the tender age of 23, on the 12th December, 1916. She was then buried by family in East Ham. Sadly she was not regarded as a casualty of war and her grave, in East Ham’s Plashet Jewish Cemetery, laid undiscovered until a research team led by Harold Pollins and Martin Sugarman, with the involvement of AJEX (Association of Jewish Ex-Service Men and Women) discovered her details and began to piece together Edith’s story.

Her gravestone was eventually reconsecrated and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission gave Edith her long awaited and deserved recognition as a war casualty.

The special stone-setting ceremony at the ancient Plashet cemetery was officiated over by Rabbi  Livingstone, senior Jewish chaplain to the Armed Forces. Also in attendance were Newham politicians, members of London’s Jewish community and representatives of St. John’s Ambulance. Also paying their respects were three distant descendants of Edith Munro.

Wreaths of poppies, a symbol of the World Wars, were laid at Munro’s grave while the military theme The Last Post was played. Local historian Stan Kaye, who also contributed to the research team’s efforts, said “It was a very emotional service,”

“I kept thinking what it must have been like 100 years ago when she was buried in this cemetery – cold, and in the middle of the war.”

Newham Council‘s chair and civic lead, Cllr. Joy Laguda, herself a former nurse, who attended the reconsecration ceremony and laid a wreath on behalf of the council, commented: “The stone is a lasting legacy to Edith’s valour”

The Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) was founded in 1909 by the UK armed forces alongisde St. John’s Ambulance and the Red Cross. The VAD nurses, virtually all women, treated battlefield injuries and became renowned and respected for their courage under fire. Many were killed in action from bombing or contracting infections. Hundreds were killed in the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, and relatives of VAD nurses who died in the call of duty have long struggled to get their contributions to the war effort properly recognised.

Edith Hilda Munro

Birth:  unknown
Death:  Dec. 12, 1916
West Ham
Greater London, England

She was a VAD nurse, died aged 23.Deaths Dec 1916 Munro Edith H 23 W.Ham 4a 173
 
 
Burial:
Plashet Jewish Cemetery
East Ham
London Borough of Newham
Greater London, England
Plot: plot M.24.35
SOURCES:
“Brave nurse is saluted” – The Newham Mag, Newham Council [Issue 337] (8 April 2016)
“Nurse buried in East Ham was ‘war casualty’ ” – Kay Atwal, Newham Recorder/London24 news network/Archant Community Media Ltd (14 April 2012) http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/nurse_buried_in_east_ham_was_war_casualty_1_1348254
“Silvertown war nurse remembered century after dying aged 23” – Iain Burns, Newham Recorder/London24 news network/Archant Community Media Ltd (20 March 2016) http://www.newhamrecorder.co.uk/news/silvertown_war_nurse_remembered_century_after_dying_aged_23_1_4458309
“Edith Hilda Munro” – Geoffrey Gillon & Stanley Kaye, Find A Grave (25 July 2013) http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=114347036
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:VAD poster.jpg” – Voluntary Aid Detachment & Lumos3, Wikimedia Commons (13 June 2008) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:VAD_poster.jpg
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