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From the Totnes Times

2 March 1900



Miss Alice Tarr, a daughter of Mr. Tarr of Saxe St.,Teignmouth, is with the troops in South Africa. The Duchess of Bedford received from Mr. Treves, the celebrated surgeon at the front, a letter giving an account of the heroic work done by two nurses - Miss McCaul and Miss Alice Tarr, both of whom accompanied him as especially trained assistants.


"The two nurses" he says, "were the only women in the camp of 30,000 men. We reached Frere just before the great battle of the Tugela. The nurses remained at Chieveley, which was, however, within reach of the Boer shells. The wounded all came to four field hospitals, just behind the big guns.

Here we tended to no less than 800 wounded. They were sent on as soon as possible to No. 4 Field Hospital at Chieveley. It was here that the nurses did such splendid work. They were at work night and day. Miss McCaul gave away all her handkerchiefs, gave up her hot water bottle and her mattress. Just  before we went to Chieveley, two army sisters joined us, and I expect these are the only four women who have been at the actual front. I cannot speak too highly of the work they did. Many men will remember the nurses at Chieveley.

We came back here on Sunday but had no camp to go to, so the nurses slept on the floor of a looted house, and I slept on a wagon. The trouble here is want of water. What we get is like pea-soup, and can hardly be filtered.

I wish the women of England could know how these four nurses worked at Chieveley, worked until they nearly dropped, and did an amount of good that cannot be estimated."

Miss Tarr, who was the first nurse to tend Lord Robert's son when he was injured at the Battle of Colenso, in a recent letter to her parents, speaks of the  bravery of our wounded soldiers, who bore pain without a murmur. Unfortunately, she was taken ill with dysentery (enteric fever) and had to go back to Pietermaritzburg and is expected now to be coming home with Mr. Treves. She speaks in the highest terms of the kindness of the people there.


From the British Journal of Nursing

26 July 1902:

"Miss Alice Tarr, the permanent nurse assistant of Sir Frederick Treves, has, we believe, with Nurses Fletcher and Haines, taken some part in the care of the King*. It is interesting to note that it is reported that this is the first time that His Majesty has had occasion to avail himself of professional nursing, as during his terrible illness in the autumn of 1871, when the Prince of Wales nearly lost his life with enteric fever, he was entirely nursed by his devoted physicians, by the Princess of Wales, and by his sister, Princess Alice who had had a great deal of actual experience during the course of the Franco-Prussian War.

No doubt when His majesty is entirely convalescent, the names of his nurses will be made public, as presumably they will share in some of the honours and awards to b e freely given to those who have by their skill and devotion to duty, done all in their power to save the King's life."


From the London Gazette

19 June 1903:

Their Majesties King Edward the Seventh and Queen Alexandra, on Thursday the 11th instant, opened the new Out-Patient Department of the London Hospital. In his response to the Address read by the Honourable Sydney Holland, the King said:

"We shall have great satisfaction in inspecting the building; and before declaring it open, I wish to record my deep feeling of gratitude to this hospital, which, at the time of my severe illness*, provided me with so distinguished a surgeon as Sir Frederick Treves, with an anaesthetist in Dr. Hewitt, and with two such nurses - Nurse Haines and Nurse Tarr - whose unceasing attention I cannot sufficiently praise.

I declare the building open, and may God's blessing rest on all who come to it for aid and on all who work in it."


*In 1902, appendicitis was largely unrecognised and removal of the appendix by surgery  in its infancy. In a pioneering operation on King Edward VII which lasted less than an hour, Sir Frederick Treves located and drained an appendiceal abscess without removing the appendix. The King, then aged over sixty, made a full recovery and was well enough to take part in the Coronation ceremony just a few weeks later.

Frederick Treves was appointed surgeon to Queen Victoria early in 1901 and on 28 May 1901 was appointed by her to be a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order with the title "Sir Frederick Treves".


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