One of Edie’s
closest friends working alongside her in France was Kate Maxey whom she
mentions many times in her diary, always as 'Maxey', never as 'Kate'.
They were together at Etretat for most of 1916 and may have been later
than this but sadly the diaries are missing from the period mid-November
1916 until June 1918. It is clear that Edie and Kate shared many
off-duty hours together going for walks, collecting flowers for the
wards and some more exotic adventures.
See the names index for dates on which she is mentioned in Edie's
In August 2011,
when this page was first published, we said that we were
particularly keen to trace any relatives of Kate. We have now heard from
two of Kate's great nieces who have lots of information about Kate. We
will be updating this page as we receive more information.
December 2011 - see update below.
was born in Spennymoor, County Durham in 1877, the daughter
of Walter John Maxey and his wife Jane (née Watford). It seems that Walter
was married twice, both wives being called Jane. She had siblings Martha,
John, Mary and Amelia, and by 1891 Kate and Amelia, the two
youngest, were living in Leeds with George and Catharine McKane, their relationship being given as 'Niece'.
One of Kate's sisters,
Amelia Jane Maxey married James Large in the September
quarter of 1906 (July, Aug, Sept) in Leeds. At some point
they lived at Burn House, Spennymoor.
returns for 1881 and 1891 below.
Here’s picture of her,
probably taken after the war.
on the image to enlarge.
Kate Maxey trained as a nurse at Leeds
General Infirmary and served throughout the war until she was wounded at
the time of the German Spring Offensive in March 1918. She was one of
the Great War's most decorated nurses, being awarded both the Royal Red
Cross, 1st Class, and the Military Medal for bravery under fire.
Here is more
information about her decorations:
From the London
Gazette 4th June 1918:
the KING has been pleased to approve of the award of the Military
Medal to the undermentioned Ladies for distinguished services in the
Field as recorded:—
Sister-in-Charge Kate Maxey, T.F.N.S.
gallantry and conspicuous devotion to duty displayed during a recent
hostile bombing raid on a Casualty Clearing Station. Although
severely wounded herself, she went to the aid of another Sister, who
was fatally wounded, and did all she could for her. Later, although
suffering severe pain, she showed an example of pluck and endurance
which was inspiring to all.
Sue Light adds:
nearly lost her life as well that night. Her injuries were reported
'... she sustained multiple bomb wounds in the following regions.
Right forehead, right side of neck, right forearm, right thigh upper
and lower, left thigh and right foot. The lower part of the right
radius was fractured. The right spinal accessory nerve was injured
causing pain and limitation of movement of the scapula. The right
membrana tympani was perforated.'
A report from the Officer Commanding 58 Casualty Clearing Station
'... Miss Maxey's tact, zeal for work, and influence for good are of
the highest. On the night of 21.3.18 when lying wounded, she still
directed nurses, orderlies and stretcher bearers and refused aid
until others were seen to first. I have the greatest pleasure in
giving this testimony to one of the finest Nursing Sisters I have
Kate Maxey returned to work on 8th August 1918, and continued to
serve in the Territorial Force Nursing Service until April 1931.
intriguing entry (spelling corrected), taken from the British Journal of
Maxey, who gained the Military Medal, the Red Cross Medal, and the
Mons Ribbon, has been presented with a silver set of salts and
spoons, in recognition of her heroic work in France, by the
Spennymoor Ambulance Brigade and Nursing Division. She was wounded
by hostile aircraft when in charge of a hospital in France.
On 8 June 1918 Kate Maxey wrote to
Sidney Browne (female) the Matron in Chief of the Territorial Force
Nursing Service (TFNS):
May I have
the honour to congratulate you upon your name appearing in the list
of Dames Grand Cross.
papers with date of Gazette of Decorations.
If my friend
Sister E. E. Appleton Q.A. Reserve who was mentioned in the New
Year’s list of R.R.C.s , and is at present on leave in U.K. is
receiving her decoration, may we, if possible, receive them on the
Madam The honour to be Your obedient servant
What a delightful
thought: Edie and Kate going off together to collect their decorations!
However, Sue Light reports:
"we do know that her Investiture was not on
the same day as Edie's - Kate's was on the 22 June 1918, while Edie
waited until the 11th June 1920". Shame - I expect they were as
disappointed as we are. Click
see the register of Edie's decoration at Buckingham Palace by the King.
Edie's great nephew
Census returns for 1881 and
Here are census
returns showing the Maxey family at 30 Clyde Terrace, Spennymoor in 1881
and just Kate and older sister Amelia, as nieces in the home of George
and Catherine McKane, at 55a North Street, Leeds in 1891.
||< 1881 census
the images to enlarge
In 1901 Kate was a
nurse at Leeds General Infirmary.
Update December 2011
October 2011 I travelled from Gloucestershire to visit three great
nieces of Kate Maxey in County Durham. While researching family history
they had come across references to their great auntie Katie on Edie’s
website and they had then used Edie’s Visitors’ Book to get in touch.
received a very warm welcome from Elizabeth Varley and her husband Brian
and, later, from Maureen Defty and her sister Barbara and it was a most
rewarding visit. We spent several hours sharing information about our
great aunts who were clearly close friends as well as colleagues while
working in Etretat. Such contacts, made almost 100 years after our
relatives, Edie and Katie, knew each other are very powerful and
they are. Maureen and her sister, Barbara, whom I photographed during
the visit and their cousin, Elizabeth Maxey Varley, whose picture I have
‘borrowed’ from the internet as I forgot to take a snap of her!