Commemorating Annie Munro

Being involved with photographing war graves you often find that you are drawn to some graves, or individuals, or you feel that you need to remind the world of a life that was cut short by the tragedy of war. One such grave is that of a young nurse called Annie Winifred Munro.

I do not recall how I got involved with this particular grave, all I know is that I felt that a plan really needed to be made to commemorate her loss, and some investigating was done. She is buried in the Glasgow Western Metropolis and her casualty details may be found on the corresponding CWGC page. Glasgow is far from my usual stomping grounds, and while we knew that there was a headstone we had no photograph of it. I decided to ask around and by luck one of the members of the South African Branch of the Royal British Legion was able to go to the cemetery and photograph the grave for us. It was winter, and snow lay on the ground. 

Annie was no longer forgotten, her record at the South African War Graves Project was just that much more complete now that the grave was photographed. Incidentally her headstone was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and “was erected to her memory by the South African Comforts Committee, under the personal direction of the Viscountess Gladstone”. 

But why was Annie buried here in the first place? It is difficult to understand so many years after the fact, but the information that exists is as follows: “… on arriving in England she was sent to France, where she contracted pneumonia which obliged her to return to England. After having partly recovered from the effects of pneumonia, she desired to visit Scotland, the home of her father, but was unable to travel farther North than Glasgow. There she was taken under the care of those who had known her father; and although she received all the attention that medical skill could give her, complications set in which it was impossible to combat. She died on 6th April, 1917, at the age of 25 years, and was buried with Military Honours in the Western Necropolis, Glasgow.”

Annie had previously served in the German South West African Campaign, transferring to the hospital ship “Ebani” on 26/11/1915.

Record card for Staff Nurse Annie Munro

She is also recorded as serving in Gallipoli and eventually was sent to France where she contracted pneumonia. She was shipped back to England to recover, but after having partly recovered she desired to visit Scotland, the home of her father. 

She is noted as having died from “Phthisis” (pulmonary tuberculosis or a similar progressive wasting disease) on the 6th of April 1917, although her record card shows her as being “very ill, progress unsatisfactory” on 07/04/1917. It is very likely that the date is incorrect as death is accepted as having occurred on 06/04/1917.

What drove Annie to visit the home of her father? was she invited over? was there some other underlying reason? She was a qualified sister and was probably well aware of how ill she had been and that there were risks attached to her travelling so far from where she was staying.  Sadly she died in Scotland and in time would eventually become just another name on a headstone in a cemetery.  Renewed interest in the First World War saw more and more people researching those who fought or died in that terrible war and there was a reappraisal of the role of women and nurses in the global conflict that touched everywhere on the globe. In 2012 Our own War Graves Project was already busy with the record card project that would reveal more details about  the almost forgotten part that South African Forces played in the war. Annie is amongst those many names on the Roll of Honour.

She was visited by Louise Prentice Carter in July 2018 who laid flowers on her grave and paid her respects to this nurse so far from Pietermaritzburg where she was born.

William and Ellen Munro lost not only their daughter in 1917, they also lost a son in the war;  Sergeant  William Alexander Munro was killed at Delville Wood on 15/07/1916.

Many people have contributed to this page, although I did rely on our South African War Graves Project for most of the information. Special thanks to Louise and the Legionnaire who photographed the grave for me in 2015. There is not a lot of information to add to this story though, and the one source I did find that is new to me is from The Evening Times of 13 May 2014.  

DRW © 2019. Created 12/04/2019

The Good Ship SS Shieldhall.

In the days before the magazine Ships Monthly became too expensive, I would often read about, and see images of Shieldhall. As usual one would sigh and say “I wish I could see her”. Well, now I have seen her, and sailed on her.
She usually lives at the berth at the end of the Ocean Terminal, and is always visible from Town Quay. (She has since been shifted from this position)
However physically getting to her is a different story altogether.  They seem to dislike single people walking through the dock gates as opposed to coming through with a vehicle. The harbour is a dangerous place so it is reasonably understandable. I was able to get to her once and managed to get images of her alongside, but getting on board is a different story. Most of the images used here were taken during the Maritime Festival of 5/6 May 2013. This page may be image intensive so please be patient
The vessel has had an interesting, if somewhat mundane career as a sludge disposal vessel and I am not going to expand on it because there is a website dedicated to her. However, she was withdrawn from service in 1985, and in 1988 a preservation society was formed to keep this classic beauty running. 
She is a popular attraction too, and shortly before the festival she was off to Weymouth and I was fortunate enough to see her sail one cold morning. 
This really made me even more determined to get on board so I made a beeline to the ship on the first day of the Maritime Festival. We were only allowed on board her just before the Lanacaster flypast and that was where I took my images of that event from. But, enough waffling. Now for some images:
Her machinery spaces are amazing. She still has a pair of triple expansion engines fired by a set of oil fired scotch boilers. The engine room is available for visits, and the engineering crew are happy to show people around.
Unfortunately, while at sea your specs and camera tend to fog up totally due to the heat and humidity. Her rudder quadrant is housed in a deckhouse at the stern and is fascinating to watch. Above this deckhouse is the emergency helm.
Her accommodation block consists of her bridge and wheelhouse, with the small shop and Captains day cabin on the next level, with a saloon below that. It is not a bulky structure, but is a tall one and it gives the ship her very distinctive look. 
A lot of Brasso gets used on that bridge, and the woodwork is magnificent. It is not a large space though and I expect it could get very crowded. The saloon area houses the bar and a galley, and a skylight provides natural light to those below. It is a very pretty room.
The ship has two lifeboats,  but they do not conform to modern regulations but have been retained along with their original davits.  
She also has two steam whistles. The one is a proper ships whistle that sounds fantastic, and the other is a strange siren like thing that sounds decidedly like it has it’s own personality. The bell mouthed object is the strange siren mounted on Shieldhall’s rather small funnel. 
Contrary to expectations she does not generate heaps of smoke out of that funnel, it probably smokes when they light up a burner in the boiler, but other than that there are just colourless hot gases coming from it. Her forepeak is a popular spot to stand while underway, and it has a steam windlass on it, as well as all the usual nautical appurtenances
 It is also where her bell is housed.
At  first I thought this was her electrical plant, but actually it is a forced draft fan, and it  is situated in a small room on the main deck level and it is powered by a small steam engine. Trunking leads down into the boiler room from here.
Although there is a modern diesel generator on the upper deck by the funnel. 
Passenger seating is mostly on benches on the foredeck. but there are plenty of nooks and crannies and shady areas to hang around in. A semi permanent awning has been erected forward of her funnel to provide more shaded seating. She does not have huge hatches on her foredeck either, rather there are a series of valves that were used to discharge her smelly cargo. 
The nice thing about her is that almost none of the working bits of the ship have been removed, today she is almost unchanged from when she was built, and I think that is part of her charm. She has no pretensions about being a fancy hi-tech ferry. She was a working ship, and although retired, has retained her look. I hope that she will be with us for many years, and I look forward to going out on her again if ever I get the chance. 
However, without donations and funds and volunteers and skills she will stop. So please support her as much as you can.
Bits and bobs.
There are many things on board that I liked, and I photographed a few of them as a result. These images are all about these bits and bobs.
I seem to recall that I did four trips with Shieldhall and I enjoyed each one. She is a unique relic to an age gone by, and I have a certain affection for her. Its just a pity that a day on her is no longer possible. The longest trip I did with her was down to Ryde, and I blogged about it too
© DRW 2012-2018. Images recreated 06/04/2016