Halloughton Hall Military Hospital, Coleshill

Mabel King, Nurse Commandant Mable King is fourth from the left, the second row from the front

As part of the Dene Valley U3A Great War in the Villages Project we asked members who lived in the villages covered by our U3A to share with us any memorabilia or other links to the Great War handed down to them. We have added a number of items to the website so they are recorded within the public domain.

One of our members now living in Wellesbourne is Mrs Heather Brown, has provided us with sight what is a very unusual and special document. This was passed down to her from her Great Aunt, Mabel King who was Nurse Commandant at Halloughton Hall Hospital, Coleshill during the hospital’s being in the Great War.

Halloughton Hall Hospital opened in May 1915 and closed in October 1915 and was a convalescent hospital. It was owned by Miss Barker who placed part of her home at the disposal of the British Red Cross.                                                                                         
Mabel King decided to invite the wounded and convalescing soldiers to record their experiences, feelings or messages in a ledger book. This was the document Heather Brown has inherited together with photographs of the hospital, the staff and patients. The experiences recounted cover a period in 1915 during which there was fierce fighting on the Western Front and in the Dardanelles.

Heather Brown also had a copy of another document, entitled “A Touch of Memory” which was a paper written by a Colonel Clifford Nixon MBE who as yet we have not been able to trace. Colonel Nixon was assisted by Mrs Liz Barlow who typed up the manuscript and interpreted handwriting. Colonel Nixon apparently at some time in the 1970s or 1980s was able to examine Mabel King’s ledger book which was loaned to him by a work colleague,  Mrs Sadie King a niece of Mabel’s who herself had inherited the ledger prior to Heather Brown. Colonel Nixon reproduced the narratives from the ledger and also other pieces and messages written by the soldiers. He also described events leading to the war and its progress up to 1915 which was when the entries in the ledger ceased. Because of the difficulty in copying pages from the ledger without damaging it, we have made use of some of the typed versions of the narratives created by Mrs Liz Barlow.

We would like to acknowledge that we have done that and hope Colonel Nixon and Mrs Barlow will forgive us for not having their permission and be pleased we are helping to bring to greater light  the stories and feelings of those soldiers who a hundred years ago came from all over what was then the British Empire. Since starting this project we have discovered that a copy of the document, "A Touch of Memory" prepared by Col Nixon has been filed by the Imperial War Museum and is recorded on the web site as:

" www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1030001889Documents.2223. Ts transcription (83pp) including historical notes by the editor Colonel C Nixon CBE of an autograph book compiled by Miss Mabel King ..."

At the time when Colonel Nixon examined the ledger, there was less information readily available to trace the soldiers who only recorded their rank and regiment and often only provided first name initials. Although there are still many gaps, through the resources of family history sites and depending especially on the medal record index it has been possible to find out more about some of the soldiers.

To see the messages from Gallipoli soldiers click HERE
To see the Gallery of postcards and photos click

This page and sub pages are under construction Feb 2015 contact tony_whiteley@hotmail.com

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