Marjorie Smyth – a Life Remembered

Marjorie Smyth

Marjorie Smyth

Marjorie was born in Cheshire in 1891 and lived for the most part in the Tattenhall area.

VADs_London

Marjorie, 3rd left, middle row

In 1909 the VADs (Voluntary Aid Detachment) was set up to provide field nursing services, mainly in hospitals and in 1915 Marjorie qualified as a VAD at Roehampton in London.

Sometime later she returned to Tattenhall and joined the Chester Remount depot no.2, based in Crane Street, Chester which was under the direct command of Headquarters, Western Command Chester. It had been established by Miss Dorothy Ravenscroft. There were at least two Remount depots in Chester. Depot no.1, possibly in Leadworks Lane, was set up by Miss E G Bather, and accomodated about 250 horses. The land for the depot was donated by Mr B O Rigby, later Captain Rigby, in 1915.

Marjorie, 2nd left, back row.

Marjorie, 2nd left, back row.

Remount depots were “convalescent” homes where sick or injured army horses were taken, in order to be made fit again for service. In the Chester depots up to forty horses were cared for at any one time: the depot specialised in healing horses which had been suspended from duty because they were “incurably vicious”

The women who worked in these depots were gentle women, and were used to handling and riding horses. The work was arduous and heavy and the days were long. The “lads”, as they were affectionately known were highly regarded:

Chester -remount 056 (2)

“(with)determination and quiet pluck…(they) sent the animals back to the Army not only cured but fool proof”

 Receipt books for the depot, kept by Marjorie covering the period 1917 to the end of 1918 show such items as oats, hay, straw, wheat, bran, linseed, chaff and sacks were being purchased and also gave some indication of the number of horses being cared for.

This information and the images have been provided by Chester Library as part of their Great War Stories.

 

 

3 Responses to Marjorie Smyth – a Life Remembered

  1. Yvonne Keeping 1 April 2014 at 5.50pm #

    Please can you tell me whether you have more information about the remount depots. I live in Tattenhall and we are putting on an exhibition in August and I would like to present information about how the horses were picked and how they were transported to war and what happened at the end of the war. I have not been able to find any information so far until I came across this article about Marjorie Smyth
    Thank you for your help

  2. Elaine Pierce Jones 2 April 2014 at 2.24pm #

    I have passed your question to the staff at Chester Library who initiated this post and they should contact you shortly.

  3. Bill Pearson 22 August 2014 at 9.22pm #

    I too have struggled to find much information on how horses from Cheshire got to the battlefields.

    A report in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser on 8th August 1914 says the Cheshire Hunt was abandoned as men had joined up and horses were going to the war.

    Th whole of the Cheshire Hunt horses were offered for sale in May 2015.

    Pathe have a video of horses training on sand dunes in Cheshire:
    http://www.britishpathe.com/video/horses-riders-train-on-dunes-aka-training

    There was a big remount centre in Lancashire, at Lathom Park, near Ormskirk:
    http://www.warmule.org/blog/one-every-two-men

    After the war the Cheshire Observer on Saturday 21 December 1918 has adverts for the sale of “surplus government horses” at the remount depot in Crane Street and also a remount depot at the Leadworks Chester.

    There don’t appear to be any photos of horses being put on trains etc. I’d be grateful if anyone has any more information.

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