MABEL A CHITTOCK, RRC, MM
NURSE AND ASSISTANT MATRON OF ST JOHNS HOSPITAL, ETAPLES, FRANCE
Mabel Chittock was born in Norwich in 1871 to Rachael and John Chittock. She qualified as a nurse and midwife at Guys Hospital, London in 1900-1903.
When war broke out in August 1914, the Order of St Johns agreed with the War Office to set up and fund a base clearing hospital in Etaples, France. Staff were all members of the St John’s Ambulance Brigade. The hospital was a complex of single-story wooden buildings with over 525 beds and was considered one of the best designed and equipped military hospital in France. Weekly reports were written by Chief Commissioner James Clark and on 11 August 1915 he states “Miss Todd and Assistant Matron Miss Chittock arrived safely in Boulogne and were brought to the hospital by motor car”.
The hospital cared for over 35,000 patients throughout the war. However, on 18 May 1918 the hospital was hit by a bomb that killed five members of staff. Then again on 31 May a second bomb hit the hospital resulting in 11 deaths and 60 casualties. The second attack left no department undamaged and rendered the hospital incapable of continuing. The decision was then taken to move the hospital to Trouville, on the French coast, where it operated from Oct 1918 -1 February 1919.
Several nurses at the hospital were awarded the Military Medal for their ‘distinguished service in the field’. An entry in the London Gazette on 26 July 1918 reads:
“Asst, Mabel Chittock, St John’s Ambulance Hospital. For gallantry and devotion to duty during an enemy air raid. She displayed great presence of mind, and installed courage and confidence throughout a very trying time”.
After the war Mabel returned to England. She died in Norwich in 1942.