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Violet - our girl on the home front

Written by Judith Curthoys, posted on Friday, November 1, 2019

Detail from Christ Church Archives D&C ii.b.12 Interment of Miss V. MoberlyDocument of the Month - November 2019

Christ Church Archives D&C ii.b.12

On 9 November 1918, just two days before the Armistice, Miss Violet Moberly, aged 30 and daughter of the late Canon Robert Moberly, died. Permission was given by Chapter for her to be buried close to her father in the garth to the south of the cathedral.

It has only recently come to light, however, that Violet was a nurse with the Volunteer Aid Detachment throughout the 1st World War, along with women like Agatha Christie and Vera Brittain whose names became famous.

Portrait of Violet Moberly, courtesy of the Imperial War MuseumThe VAD system was founded in 1909 by the British Red Cross and the Order of St John. On the outbreak of the 1st World War, as men joined the services, so their places as nurses, cooks, and drivers were filled by women, some serving at home where most large towns had a VAD hospital, others on the Western Front, at Gallipoli and in Mesopotamia.

Violet did not go abroad but worked close to home in the 3rd Southern General Hospital in Oxford which had at ten units across the city, the principal one being at the Examination Schools on the High Street, at the Town Hall, in the workhouse infirmary at Cowley and, for officers only, at Somerville College. The University had its own VAD hospital, which came under the care of the 3rd Southern.

Violet died at the 3rd Southern of illness contracted while she was tending the returning soldiers, but it was not until 2017 that nurses and medical staff were recognised as war dead. Violet’s grave is now officially listed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The women who served in the 1st World War are often forgotten as we rightly commemorate the men who sacrificed their lives – around 250 from Christ Church alone – but it is good to remember at this time of year our girl who ‘did her bit’.

Read more about the 3rd Southern General Hospital in Oxford, here :

The image of Violet Moberly is used by kind permission of the Imperial War Museum. All images remain © IWM. For more images search the IWM website.

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