Help needed to trace nurse’s wartime story

This bronze plate was believed to be put on the front door of a building in Newland Road when she was working in Banbury. NNL-141222-115812001
This bronze plate was believed to be put on the front door of a building in Newland Road when she was working in Banbury. NNL-141222-115812001

An antiques enthusiast is looking for information about a Banbury nurse who treated soldiers during the First World War.

Mike Cavanagh, of Noss Mayo near Plymouth, is appealing for information about Emily Gertrude Bolton, one of the Banbury’s oldest residents when she died at the age of 100 on Christmas Eve in 1978.

His curiosity has been sparked after he bought a brass plate for £25 in Tavistock, Devon, earlier this month which is thought to have once been on the front of a building connected to Miss Bolton in Banbury’s Newland Road.

Along with the brass plate, there was also a newspaper cutting from the Banbury Guardian in December 1978, which announced Miss Bolton’s death.

Mr Cavanagh wants to find out more about her life.

He said: “I am a big collector of antiques and when looking through a shop I was immediately drawn to the plate and in particular the word ‘fever’, which drew me in.

“The word hasn’t been used in about 70-80 years and I was thinking of so many questions about who she was and what she did. You think about all the possible windows that have opened because of one item.”

The newspaper cutting reported that Miss Bolton qualified as a nurse at St Luke’s Hospital in Chelsea, London in 1908 and she subsequently served with the Territorial Army Nursing Service during the First World War.

After the war she qualified as an apothecary’s assistant and acted as a dispenser at the Horton General Hospital. She also undertook private nursing.

She lived at Fleetwood, 14 Newland Road until she entered Orchard Lodge Old People’s Home on Warwick Road six years before her death.

At her funeral at St Mary’s Church on Horse Fair, Banbury her coffin was borne into the church by a military bearer party.

Mr Cavanagh said: “I would like to know more of Miss Bolton, and seeing it is 36 years after her death and 136 since her birth, I would appreciate any memories readers may have of her.

“When the First World War started nurse Bolton was already 36-years-old and in her service at the front, she must have seen so many horrific scenes and been with many men as they died while holding her hand.”

Mr Cavanagh added the plate, which measures about ten inches wide and eight inches long, is hanging in his kitchen at home but said it will end up in the Banbury Museum one day in the future.

If anyone has any stories about Miss Bolton, they can call Mr Cavanagh on 01752 873152.