Ceremony will honour Nellie Spindler and nurses at war

15th May 2007. Nurse Nellie Spindler.
15th May 2007. Nurse Nellie Spindler.

The Wakefield nurse killed during the Battle of Passchendaele and buried with full military honours will be commemorated during a special service at Wakefield Cathedral this Remembrance Sunday.

Nellie Spindler had volunteered to treat soldiers on the frontline during the First World War and was killed when she was struck by a German shell fired at a casualty clearing station on August 21, 1917.

15th May 2012.   Archaeologists carry out excavation work inside Wakefield Cathedral, as part of the multi-million pound redevelopment scheme.

15th May 2012. Archaeologists carry out excavation work inside Wakefield Cathedral, as part of the multi-million pound redevelopment scheme.

The 26-year-old died in the arms of head sister and fellow Wakefield girl, Minnie Wood.

Sunday’s service will be a commemoration for all nurses who went to war.

Speakers will include Professor Christine Hallett, chair of the UK Centre for the History of Nursing and author of ‘Nurses of Passchendaele’, Marilyn McInnes - granddaughter of an injured First World War soldier, and Barbara Hallows who is chair of the Nurses’ Memorial Appeal.

The event is being arranged to help support the Nurses’ Memorial Appeal, which is raising money to erect a permanent memorial to nurses who were killed in both world wars.

Christine Hallett said: “Wakefield Cathedral is doing such important work in taking this work forward.

“It is providing an opportunity for the community to truly reflect on the significant work of nurses in time of war.

“Over 1,500 nurses lost their lives in the two world wars of the twentieth century, and, in working together, the cathedral and the Nursing Memorial Appeal are doing so much to keep their memory alive.”

Nellie qualified as a nurse in 1915 at St James’s Hospital in Leeds, and as the fighting intensified, she joined Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service as a staff nurse.

She arrived in France on May 23, 1917 before being deployed to Belgium.

Nellie is the only nurse to have been buried with full military honours - and is the only woman to be laid to rest alongside more than 10,000 casualties of the conflict at Lijssenhoek cemetery in Belgium. The rank on her headstone reads ‘ staff nurse’.

Sunday’s ceremony will begin at 3.30pm and everyone is welcome to attend.