UK

Mystery WW1 Nurse Identified By Antiques Roadshow-Watching Relative

English Heritage put a call out in 2018, including a colourised selection of photographs, in the hope family members would come forward.

A mystery nurse who cared for injured soldiers during the First World War has been identified after her granddaughter in Canada recognised pictures shown on Antiques Roadshow.

Carol Jephson was left "surprised" when the BBC show displayed a photograph of her grandmother, Olive Buller, at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire, the first wartime country house hospital.

No formal records exist of the hundreds of nurses at Wrest Park after a fire at the country estate in 1916.

Nurses at Wrest Park, with Olive Buller on the far left (Picture: English Heritage).

English Heritage put a call out in 2018, along with a colourised selection of photographs, in the hope that relatives of the wartime nurse might come forward.

After Ms Jephson approached the charity to identify her grandmother, researchers were then able to find out the names of other nurses during the period.

"I feel very fortunate indeed to have been watching Antiques Roadshow at exactly the right moment," Ms Jephson said.

"During their discussion about the history of Wrest Park, several photos of First World War nurses were shown and I was very surprised to see a photo of my grandmother, Olive Buller.

"I have the same photo of her so I recognised her right away.

"It is wonderful that my grandmother’s collection will become part of the archive and it is especially lovely that now several other nurses will be recognised as well."

Researchers were able to find out the names of other nurses from the period (Picture: Carol Jephson).

Ms Jephson also shared photographs from her grandmother’s collection, with images of soldiers being unloaded from an ambulance, mattresses left to air over the terrace railings and one of the doctors playing cards with the servicemen.

Wrest Park was offered by its owner Auberon Herbert, the 9th Baron Lucas, directly to Winston Churchill as a place to treat wounded service personnel.

By 7 September 1914, it was transformed into a convalescent hospital, ready to welcome its first patients.

Wrest Park in Silsoe, Bedfordshire, was the first wartime country house hospital (Picture: English Heritage).

Andrew Hann, an historian at English Heritage, said: "These women were the backbone of the hospital and a crucial part of the war effort, providing much-needed treatment to the wounded but also acting as a comfort to those soldiers traumatised by the horrors of war.

"Being able to identify nurse Olive Buller and others included in her photographs helps us better understand life at Wrest Park during the First World War.

"It’s incredible that we’ve found these answers all the way across the Atlantic and we’re grateful to Carol for coming forward."

Cover image: Olive Buller, on the left, with a nursing colleague (Picture: English Heritage).