Gap years – Great War military hospitals remembered

THE Great War of 1914-1918 became a reality to those back home when thousands of wounded soldiers returned from the conflict, writes Peter Fox.

The hospitals were overwhelmed, and many temporary hospitals were created to accommodate these.

Saddleworth was no exception and the first was opened in 1915 at Wharmton Tower in Greenfield.
This was soon followed by one at Ashway Gap, at Dovestone Reservoir, opening on
January 29, 1916.

Ashway Gap Military hospital

Now demolished, it was a large house that once stood in Chew Valley built by the Platt family as a shooting lodge.

During the First World War, women became eager supporters of the war in whatever way they could.

One example was the V.A.D (Voluntary Aid Detachment), formed in 1909 by the War Office to help prevent a shortage of nurses during the war.

WW1 Ashway Gp military hospital 1918

British women volunteered to serve the wounded soldiers under the Red Cross and Order of
St John.

The Ashway Gap Military Hospital offered opportunity for them to support the war effort.

A group of volunteers at Saddleworth Museum have just completed a fascinating display which reminds us of the contribution these women played in supporting the war effort.

Florence (Bunty) and Ann Bradbury were the daughters of Henry Bradbury and were born in Greenfield in 1894 and 1895 respectively.

Nurses at Ashway Gap

Both Bunty and Ann worked without pay at Ashway Gap Military Hospital which accommodated about 60 patients; wounded soldiers from the Front.

The number of wounded cared for in Saddleworth averaged over 70 for the last two years of the war, some at Wharmton Tower.

When the hospital at Ashway Gap finally closed, staff assembled and presented with souvenir brooches in recognition of the voluntary services they provided.

These badges which were of gold, had a disc bearing the words: “For Service 1914-19. In the centre was a red cross.

Ann was one of the earliest poppy sellers and when volunteering met a severely wounded airman and ex-mill worker called Hervey Rhodes, whom she married in 1925.

Ashway Gap Hospital museum exhibition

Hervey established his own textile business, served as Labour MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, a Minister in the Atlee and Wilson governments and was made a Life peer in 1965.

Ann became ‘Lady Rhodes’ and continued her charitable work, even accompanying her husband on a working tour of China at the age of 87.

She passed away in 1983 after 57 years of marriage to her wounded airman.

Bunty enjoyed a long marriage to Cloudesley Mallalieu, a local mill owner, and died in 1988.

One Reply to “Gap years – Great War military hospitals remembered”

  1. My Dad used to talk about Ashway Gap House he lived at Binn Green all those years ago. He remembered seeing the soldiers who used to wave to him.

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