Armistice centenary commemoration

Opens Friday 9 November and will be on display for several weeks.

St Michael and All Angels Church, Bath Rd, Chiswick W4 1TT

For the fifth year, commemorating the five years of the First World War, St Michael and All Angels Church has mounted an exhibition commemorating those who died in that war who were from its parish. Those remembered will include Mrs Violet Long OBE, Chief Controller of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, who drowned when the Ambulance Transport ship HMAT Warilda was torpedoed on 3 August 1918. She was 35 and the only woman remembered on the church’s memorials.

‘Violet lived at 4 Abinger Road, Bedford Park W4, and, at the start of the war, helped in the training of candidates for the St. John Ambulance Society in St Michael & All Angels Parish Hall. In 1917, the various women’s voluntary bodies were reorganised into a paid government service, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.  Mrs Florence Burleigh Leach became its second Chief Controller and appointed her sister Violet as her deputy, latterly Chief Controller for Administration.

‘On August 3rd 1918, HMAT Warilda was transporting over 600 wounded soldiers from Le Havre to Southampton. Her white superstructure and large red crosses were intended to give her the protection of the International Committee of the Red Cross but, as with other hospital ships, Germany claimed the ships were also carrying arms. Chief Controller Violet Long had taken a contingent of staff to France to work with the American Expeditionary Forces and to gather information for a report. With her work completed, she managed to get a berth back to England on board the Warilda with her orderliesCharacteristically, Violet was the last woman to leave the ship, having made sure the two QMAAC in her care were safely off. As Violet boarded the lifeboat it lurched and capsized and she fell into the sea’.

You can see more details, and pictures of Violet Long from her family’s album, at St Michael and All Angels WW1 Project website together with details of 127 servicemen named on the church’s war memorials. The website gives details of the Fallen of Bedford Park road by road.

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