Caton’s answer to Florence Nightingale

Clementina Addison.
Clementina Addison.

In our weekly A-Z of World War One, C is for Clementina...Clementina Addison – a heroic nurse who met a tragic end.

Born in 1890 in Lancaster, Clementina Addison joined the French Flag Nursing Corps after qualifying as a nurse in Leicester.

The French Flag Nursing Corps was a group of nurses created by a wealthy British woman called Grace Ellison, who realised the military nursing services in France were poorly organised.

Her idea was to put small numbers of British nurses into French field hospitals to improve them with their expertise.

Clementina went off to France in 1915 and for a year, served with distinction at a French military hospital at Besancon, tending the wounded and the dying, and many French soldiers suffering with contagious diseases.

One of her most difficult tasks was treating soldiers in the trenches of Verdun, during a battle between French and German armies in early 1916 on the Western Front.

Her duties were arduous, and in early 1916, Clementina got sick with what was described as “a rapidly malignant disease”.

She was brought home to Britain but grew gradually weaker. She died peacefully at her home in Caton on July 10 1916, aged just 26.

The French Flag Nursing Corps sent a beautiful wreath tied with the tricolour ribbon of France to her funeral at St Paul’s Church, where her remains were accompanied by soldiers from the Lancaster barracks.

She was also awarded the Medaille des Epiidemies by the French authorities following her death, the first to be recorded in the ranks of the French Flag Nursing Corps.

Clementina’s name is the last one on the World War One memorial in Caton village but there is no permanent headstone in the church graveyard.

But the people of Caton still remember Sister Addison, a local heroine who made the ultimate sacrifice.