Myfanwy Hoskins – sad tale of a General’s wife

Myfanwy Hoskins, then Williams born 15 June 1882, became a military nurse in May 1913 after passing a 6 month probation. Her initial training and work as a nurse had been in Leamington between 1905 and 1911.

Having been in a military nurse since 1913, she attempted to resign her commission in July 1914 as she was due to marry Arthur Reginald Hoskins, North Staffordshire Regiment, at the end of August 1914. This accounts for why Hoskins was on leave in England when war broke out and was not with 3 King’s African Rifles of which he was Inspector-General. With the war looming, Myfanwy’s resignation was not accepted pending further developments. On the same day this decision was being made, 6 August 1914, she married AR, as is recorded on her file (TNA, WO 399/4006).

On 28 October Myfanwy asked to resign her commission in the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service which was accepted. Her work seemed to be satisfactory however, there are records of her not being well, depression being the main issue. Her resignation was accepted in early November, the military officials finding her ‘unfit for service’ due to ‘overstrain’.

On 12 June 1915 she was accepted into the QAIMNS Reserve as a Staff Nurse for Lady Hadfield’s Anglo-American Hospital, Wimereux, Bolougne. At this time, AR was with 8th Brigade, 3rd Division.

Correspondence in January 1916 shortly before AR was posted to East Africa to support the relaunch of the campaign there, suggests that Myfanwy was depressed at not being near her husband. (War Diary Jan 1916, TNA, Kew WO95/3989 available Scarletfinders, 6-10 January 1916). At this time Myfanwy initially based at 6 General Hospital Rouen, was sent to 8 General Hospital to the Sick Sisters Division before being sent home on the Copenhagen. Issues of Confidentiality and Data Protection were clearly different in those days as the Nursing Commander:

Wrote General Hoskins re his wife expressing regret that she was unhappy at No.6 as Miss Reid was one of our best Matrons and I did not think she would permit anyone willingly to be unhappy under her. Said that his wife had already approached the DMS with a view to getting on a train so that she might be nearer to him and emphasising the fact at the same time that her only cause of unhappiness was her separation.

In April 1916, after being on sick leave from the end January to 30 April, she was serving in Brighton before being transferred to Clipstone Camp, Mansfield. (Ada Young served at Clipstone 1917)

How would she cope with AR in Africa? She didn’t, unfortunately, and was eventually found ‘unfit for service’ with neurosthemia in October 1916 being granted leave from 28 October to 17 November of that year. She was serving at Clipstone Camp, Northern Command. On 25 October, CA Stevens in charge of QAIMNS at Clipstone wrote to Lieut Hewitt at Northern Command headquarters noting the Myfanwy had arrived on 21 October and that despite working well and being fuly occupied, ‘her state of depression increases and that she states that she fears a nervous breakdown if left at such a quiet desolate spot at Clipstone Camp Hospital.’ As a result of this, she was given leave and attempts were made to find her a posting closer to friends.

On 8 December 1916 she resigned, having been encouraged to do so for reasons of ill-health.

Myfanwy’s QAIMNS wartime service is recorded as Temporary, 21 June 1915 to 8 December 1916, at the time resident in Brixton Hill, London. Her prior service had been permanent with QAIMNS from 1913 to November 1914.

I can’t help but think that Myfanwy left civilian nursing for QAIMNS in May 1913 in anticipation of her marriage to Hoskins, who had been appointed to 3KAR in August 1913, although she would have likely still had to resign after her marriage. Given her apparent separation anxieties, it seems quite remarkable that their relationship lasted for them to get married in August 1914. AR’s being posted to Africa in 1916 must certainly have increased her anxities above anything they had been when he was in Europe and I can only imagine her state with him then being posted to Palestine in 1917 when he was replaced by van Deventer. I also wonder what additional pressure this placed on Hoskins who, no doubt because of his correspondence with the Chief Matron in 1916, was aware of his wife’s separation anxiety. Did she expect that as the wife of a general (career soldier) she would be posted to the nearest town/city from where her husband would issue instructions?

How many other couples suffered in this way? And what happened in the long term?


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