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Hon. Monica Margaret Salmond nee Grenfell (1893-1973)

monica grenfellSALMOND nee GRENFELL, MONICA MARGARET (1893-1973), was born in Taplow, Buckinghamshire 29 March 1893, the eldest daughter of William Henry Grenfell, afterwards first and last Baron Desborough, by his wife, Ethel Anne Priscilla, daughter of the Hon. Julian Henry Charles Fane. She was the sister of Julian Henry Francis Grenfell and Gerald William Grenfell, both killed in World War 1, as were her cousins the twins Francis Octavius Grenfell VC and Riversdale Nonus Grenfell.

On 19 August 1914 after a summer of balls and parties Monica Grenfell a 21 year old debutant entered an entirely different world at London Hospital to train as a nurse. After 3 months she volunteered to go to France as an unpaid probationer and was sent to a voluntary Red Cross hospital converted from a small hotel at Wimereux near Boulogne where she was involved in nursing a wide selection of wounded soldiers, including the first gas casualties. Throughout her career she chose to  nurse mostly other ranks rather than officers.

When, in 1915 her elder brother Julian was wounded and taken to a military hospital near Boulogne she was able to visit him and to be with him, together with their parents, when he died on May 26th. The following day his poem Into Battle was published in the Times.

In August 1915 when the Wimereux and other voluntary hospitals closed she returned to London Hospital to continue her training and to deal with both military and civilian patients, adults and children.

In May 1916 she returned to a military Hospital near Calais alongside a canal where very seriously wounded soldiers were transported to the hospital by barge.  Later that year she had to return to England to recover from a serious infection as a result of treating wounded soldiers.

When she had recovered she trained as a masseuse at the National Hospital which specialised in spine, nerve and head cases. After qualifying she completed a further course in Medical Electicity. Demand for this form of treatment was very high and she continued until the end of the war in 1918.  

From 1915 to 1918 the family home at Taplow Court  became a home of rest for war nurses and over 1000 benefited from it.

 On June 2 1924 she married Air Marshal Sir John Maitland Salmond.

In addition to her autobiography Bright Armour, below, she also wrote A First Book of First Aid in Peace and War published in 1957.

Sources: Biography Bright Armour by Monica Salmond published by Faber & Faber in 1935.
The photograph Ref.DE/X865/1is reproduced by kind permission of Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies.

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