Dorothy Phyllis Dart - Queens Alexandra Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve
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Dorothy Phyllis Dart (2 May 1917 - 26 Sep 1960) - QAIMNSR
It is not surprising, considering her parents careers, that my mother chose a career in nursing. Her initial training started on 25 February 1935 a couple of months before her 18th birthday at Stourbridge General Hospital. In the May on 1938 her training was completed and she became a State Registered Nurse No. 94143.
She enrolled as a Sister in the Queens Alexandra Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve on 17 April 1944 as a Sister. As such she was granted an officer's commission on 1 May 1944, recorded in the London Gazette of 18 July 1944. (At the time of her enrolment she was working as an industrial nurse at the Talbot Stead Jute Company, Green Lane, Walsall.)
Her initial appointment was to the 113th General Hospital on 1 May 1944 which was stationed at Turnberry, Ayrshire but by 20 June 1944 she was attached to the Emergency Medical Service at Bridge of Earn on 20 June 1944.
It would seem likely that it was at this time she met and became involved with my father Captain J. M. Gordon Hendry who was involved in Mountain Warfare training with the 1st Battalion Glasgow Highlanders H.L.I. in and around the Cairngorms at the time. Certainly it must have been a whirlwind romance as the Walsall Obeserver and South Staffordshire Chronicle of 19 August 1944 announced their engagement. It may well be that with the war in Europe now underway both knew that they would very likely become involved and I guess the possibility of one or other being killed would have been a reality that they both would have been aware.
On 1 October 1944 Sister Dorothy Phyllis Dart embarked as part of the British Liberation Army for France and just over a fortnight later Captain J. M. Gordon Hendry also crossed the channel to Ostend with his regiment the 1st Ballalion, the Glasgow Highlanders.
Just before Christmas on 20 December 1944 she was attached to 74 General Hospital, initially stationed at Bruges but in the May the unit moved north to Lüneburg, Germany. This snippet from an obituary of Pat Stephens (1922-2012), a fellow army nurse gives a brief description of her experiences with the 74th General Hospital whilst stationed at Lüneburg which I assume would have mirrored those of my mum..... "This took her" ..."as a member of the 74th British General Hospital, to a former convent in Bruges and to Luneburg in northern Germany in the Spring of 1945 where peace was signed. Her memories of that time included moments of humour but also nursing the traitor Lord Haw Haw, seeing Himmler’s body after an autopsy had been performed and helping inmates at Bergen Belsen concentration camp when she was just 23 – an appalling episode about which she would never speak."
The photograph below from my mother's photo album show a group of QAIMNS nurses outside the gates of Celle Barracks. This had been a German military establishment I believe subsequently used to house SS guards including Irma Grese and Josef Kramer, from the infamous Belsen concentration camp some 11 miles to the north. I would assume this photo was taken en route to Lüneburg. One wonders if a visit to Belsen en route to Lüneburg was also made?
She had eight days leave at the time of the move from 3 May 1945 to 11 May 1945. It was during this time that Germany finally capitulated on the 7th May with victory in Europe day being declared on 8th May.The relationship with my father continued during this period and it would appear likely that they managed to meet up during this brief leave as his regiment were certainly stationed near Bruges at the time. There is certainly a photograpg of them inscribed "Ghent". Certainly they did manage to meet up on at least one occasion in the June after peace had been declared and my father was in Biere enforcing military rule in the area as recorded in his War Diary "June 2 - Course of instruction on dealing sitting on summary mil court on members of WERMACHT. Returned via LUNEBURG and dined at 74 Br Gen Hospital. Arrived BIERE approx 01:00 3 June".William Joyce, better know as Lord Haw Haw,who broadcast pro Nazi propaganda on the radio from Germany was recovering from a gunshot wound received at the time of his arrest, at the hospital at the time.
On 29 June 1945 she was attached to 101 General Hospital which would seem to have been stationed near Bruges at Louvain at the time she joined. This latterly relocated to Heverle.
Due to her
in WW2 she
was entitled to
the France &
Germany Star ->
<- 1939-45 Star.
She was granted compassionate leave from 12 July 1945-26 July 1945. This leave would have been granted for her to return to the UK and marry J M G Hendry in Glasgow, on 18 July 1945.
It would seem that she returned to Europe but on 13 August 1945 she returned to the UK to 101 General Hospital at Netley.
On 18 September she was granted 66 days leave and was finally "released from actual duty" as of 23 November 1945.
We have a number of photographs of my mother's time with the Queens Alexandra Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve both in the UK and in Europe. These can be viewed by clicking here Use the back button on your browser to return to this page. If think you may recognise any of the individuals in these photographs please contact me using the Contact Form
Source Material - Click to view \ download.
Dorothy Phyllis Dart - Personal Files
Dorothy Phyllis Dart - Officer's Record of Service - Army Book 439
|Front Cover||Inside Front Cover||Page 1||Page 2||Page 3|
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|Page 19||Page 20||Inside Back Cover||ID Card||Movement Order|
Dorothy Phyllis Dart - Other
|D.P. Dart Officer Commision||France and Germany Star Entitlement||1939-45 Star Entitlement||British Troops in France Insignia|
"the traitor Lord Haw Haw"
The Central Queensland Herald
Thursday 7 June 1945
"LORD HAW HAW" LONDON, May 30
On 28 May 1945, William Joyce, beter know as Lord Haw Haw, a who broadcast pro Nazi propaganda on the radio from Germany was captured by British forces near the German-Danish border, in the town of Flensburg. Apparently when he went to retrieve his forged identification papers from his pocket, to prove he wasn’t Joyce, he was thought to be reaching for a pistol, and was shot in the buttocks,
He was taken to the 74th British General Hospital, in Lüneburg, near Hamburg, a seven-hour drive away, He seems to have spent a week or so recovering in Luneburg as it was not around 16 June that he arrived in the UK as a prisoner.
DPD would obviously been aware of his presence in the hospital and, taking into account his noteriety, it would seem likely that she at least saw him. He would have been in the hospital at the time when she dined with her future husband on 2nd June as detailed in Major hendry's war diary. "June 2 -Course of instruction on dealing sitting on summary mil court on members of Wermacht. Returned via Luneburg and dined at 74 Br Gen Hospital. Arrived Biere approx 01:00 3 June".
"seeing Himmler’s body after an autopsy"
Previous to the arrival of William Joyce for medical treatment a further even more sinister German ended up at Luneburgh. Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler who had been detained on 21 May took his own life in Lüneburg whilst in British Army custody by biting into a potassium cyanide capsule embedded in his teeth before he could be properly interrogated. It would seem that his body was brought to the Luneburg Hospital for autopsy and there is a death mask of Himmler taken by Private Gerrans, a RAMC sterilising orderly at 74th General Hospital (Luneberg).
"helping inmates at Bergen Belsen concentration camp"
From this it would seem that the nursing staff at Luneburg not only had to deal with the "normal" horrors of war but also their close proximity to the Belsen concentration camp brought them into contact with some of the Belsen prisoners which must have shocked and horrified even the most experienced nurses.