It has not been possible to determine the exact birth date of Frances Ethel Brace. The register of births tells us that she was born in the quarter Jan-Mar 1886.
The 1891 Wales Census tells us that she was born at Manorbier, Pembrokeshire, Wales and the family were living at Beaver’s Hill, Manorbier. She was aged 5 and lived with her Father William Brace (45) (occupation listed as farmer), Mother Jane Brace (45) and her 2 sisters Mary A (24) and Ada Alice (9). Other siblings shown on family trees on-line were Eliza Jane Brace 1869-1931; Edwin James Brace 1865-1942.
The 1901 census shows Frances as a farmers daughter, now living at Great Honeyborough Farm, Neyland, Pembrokeshire with her father and sister Alice. However her mother had died in 1897 and her sister Mary died in 1910.
The 1911 census has Frances aged 25 as a visitor with Mr and Mrs Codd at Sundon Villa Slade, Pembroke.
The following information has been obtained from the records the National Archives.
Frances trained as a nurse, going to Carmarthen Infirmary circa 1912 where she stayed for 4 years. She volunteered for service with Queen Alexandras Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS). There are records showing that Frances received a Certificate of Health from Carmarthen Infirmary dated 27th June stating that she was ‘strong and in good health and fit for service at home and abroad’.
On 14th July she was posted to Lord Derby Hospital Warrington from Carmarthen Infirmary and then transferred to 21st Stationary Hospital Salonika as a Staff Nurse on 2nd August 1916 where she contracted Malaria.
Note: The title ‘Stationary Hospital’ was a bit of a misnomer as these units could move more easily than the Casualty Clearing Stations (CCS). There were generally two Stationary Hospitals to every Division and each one was designed to hold up to 400 casualties. There was however, a tendency to use these as specialist hospitals, i.e.: gas victims, epidemics, etc.
On 15th September 1916 Frances was evacuated on HMS Dover Castle “Dangerously ill from dysentery” to a military hospital on Malta where she died of exhaustion after dysentery and malaria on 21st September 1916.
During her illness at Malta, she was nursed by Miss Jones, sister of the wife of the Vicar of LLanstadwell (the Rev. D L Davies).
She is at rest in Pieta Military cemetery, Northern Harbour, Malta.
The RAMC Officers of The Malta Garrison 1916 website references Frances and has a photo of her memorial
The names of the QAIMNS Sisters who lost their lives in the two world wars which includes Frances Ethel Brace can be found in the North Transept of York Minster, England and are known as the Five Sisters Window http://www.qaranc.co.uk/war_graves_memorials_nurses.php.
Malta was described as the Nurse of the Mediterranean during WW1.
Wounded personnel were unloaded on to the quayside outside Valletta’s ancient Sacra Infirmaria hospital, which can still be visited today. It was built by the Knights of St John in the sixteenth century and has one of the longest wards or halls in Europe. From here the wounded were sorted and moved on to the other hospitals around the island. Local Boy Scouts ran errands for the soldiers, posting their letters and bringing them magazines. There was a cool garden at the back of the hospital where a weekly concert was held for the patients.
“Malta: The nurse of the Mediterranean” by the Rev’d Albert MacKinnon that was originally published in 1916 and re-published by Nabu Press in 2010 provides an illustrated account by a Presbyterian army chaplain who served in Malta during WW1 and is full of interesting detail and personal anecdotes which make it a worthwhile and informative read. An online copy of the original book can be viewed at the above link.
Another summary of the work done by the “Nurses of the Mediterranean” can be found on the Western Front Association website.
Frances is also remembered on the West Wales War Memorials Project website where a photograh of her can be found.
A photo of Carmarthen Military Hospital circe 1905 can be found on the People Collection Wales website