The bravery of women who served in WW1 remembered

MEMORIAL: Vincent Felstead.
MEMORIAL: Vincent Felstead.

Women who served in the First World War are being remembered with memorials installed at the scene of a violent episode during the Battle of the Somme.

Vinny Felstead has been visiting the Lochnagar crater in France to help preserve the memory of female veterans of the 1914-1918 conflict.

Mr Felstead installed a memorial bench and stone on visits with his wife Lynn to the site, which became a monument to peace following the Great War.

The wooden bench and granite stone were funded by Wenches in Trenches, an action group which raises awareness of the bravery of women who did jobs including nursing and driving during the war.

Materials for the project were donated by companies in Kinsley and Featherstone.

Mr Felstead, of Gargrave Place, said: “A lot of people, even now, believe there were no women on the frontline. But there were many of them.

“They dropped everything to serve their country. They have never been recognised.”

Kinsley Timber provided wood for the memorial.

Mr Felstead said: “They supplied all the timbers, a work facility and tools. I built it myself and took it to France.”

The stone, which reads: “Dedicated to the valiant women of all nations who served in the Great War”, was provided by E Walters and Son, of Featherstone.

Mr Felstead said: “They did a magnificent job on the stone.”

The Lochnagar crater was created when the British Army’s Royal Engineers detonated a 60,000lb mine under German trenches.

Explosives were secretly planted to be ready for July 1, 1916, the first day of the epic Somme battle.

The blast crater at La Boisselle has since been turned into a memorial and is looked after by the Friends of Lochnagar.

Mr Felstead added: “I just love doing what I can for people who fought and died out there.”

Women of the First World War included nurse Nellie Spindler, born in Wakefield in 1891.

She was killed aged 26 by an artillery shell while working at a casualty clearing station at Brandhoek.

She was given a full military funeral attended by more than 100 officers and four generals, and is the only woman buried amongst 11,000 men at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium. Women who served in the First World War are being remembered with memorials installed at the scene of a violent episode during the Battle of the Somme.