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The Fernhurst Society

Tales from the Archives - 20

Miss Schuster goes to war

Miss Evelyn Schuster was a single, and singular, lady of independent means.  At the outbreak of the Great War, she was in her thirties, spoke fluent French, and had trained as a masseuse at the Royal Northern Hospital.  She therefore considered herself more than qualified to go and work at a French hospital in Rouen.

Easily offended and suspicious by nature, she was also generous and loved to stand up for those whom she considered neglected or ill-used. She became deeply involved with her wounded patients, and set about doing whatever she could for them.

Her wealth meant that she was able to buy luxuries for her patients, such as arranging for flowers to be sent from the South of France to brighten the wards. This did not endear her to her superiors, who were, after all, professionals and she a mere amateur in a lowly position. Miss Schuster had not the slightest compunction in breaking the rules and would appeal to highly placed friends of her father’s to intervene in order to further the cause she had at heart.

Inevitably she clashed with the authorities and at the end of nine months she was summarily dismissed and forbidden to enter the hospital.

Some years later a bundle of letters was found among her papers from some of her former patients giving her news of their progress and their families. One even proposed marriage.

If you would like to know more about this story, or research other local topics, the Archive is open on Tuesdays, 2.30-5pm in the Village Hall. Other times by arrangement.

Christine Maynard
Fernhurst Archive

One of a series of short articles bringing you some of the incidents from our rich village history. Collated by Christine Maynard, based on documents preserved at the Fernhurst Archives, these originally were published in the monthly Fernhurst News.

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