Hackney Wick war heroine commemorated 100 years on from death
PUBLISHED: 16:33 17 March 2016 | UPDATED: 16:33 17 March 2016
A First World War heroine has finally been commemorated, 100 years after dying in service.
Edith Hilda Munro, a 23-year-old Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse at the Albert Dock Seaman’s Hospital, died on December 12 1916 of pneumonia – but was not recognised as a war casualty.
Then in 2009 Harold Pollins, a Ruskin College Oxford lecturer, discovered her grave at Plashet Jewish Cemetery in East Ham, where she had been privately buried.
Mr Pollins contacted AJEX Jewish Military Museum Archivist and author, Martin Sugarman, who works with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in getting war casualties recognised as such.
Edith was finally recognised in 2012 and a headstone was erected two years later.
And on Tuesday last week, International Women’s Day, Edith, who was born in Meynell Street, Hackney Wick, was consecrated at the cemetery.
Martin told the Gazette: “VAD headstones are quite rare and in this 100th anniversary period, it is quite an achievement.
“It is so important to show the world that Jewish women from a very small Anglo-Jewish community played their part in WW1 and in many cases died doing so.
“And being International Women’s Day it was a most appropriate choice of date to have the ceremony then.”
Among the family and friends in attendance were Edith’s great niece and nephew, Jewish chaplain to HM Forces Rabbi Livingstone, Lord Lt of Newham and representatives from the Red Cross, St John’s Ambulance and The Royal British Legion.
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 both world wars.
Among the 38,000 women who served were author Agatha Christie and aviatrix Amelia Earhart.
Martin, through the Association of Jewish Ex-servicemen & Women (AJEX), has helped dozens of war casualties get recognised, and also works with the CWGC to correct errors on headstones.
He is helped by Jewish genealogists Mr Pollins, Saul Issroff and Gina Marks.