A film showing the role of Kate Maxey and other Spennymoor people in World War I medical services.
In May 1920 Sister Kate Maxey, a shopkeeper's daughter from Spennymoor, who served in casualty clearing stations and hospitals behind the Western Front for three and a half years before being wounded in a German air raid, was honoured as one of the first recipients of the International Red Cross’s Florence Nightingale Medal.
To celebrate Sister Maxey’s service, the Society, with the support of a £10,000 National Lottery Grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), have commissioned Lonely Tower Film and Media to make a film, entitled Behind the Lines, about the importance of medical services in the First World War and how a diverse range of Spennymoor people contributed to these. The Society is deeply indebted to Kate Maxey’s descendants who have made photographs and other records available. We are also getting help from the Durham at War Project and the DLI Collection both run by Durham County Council and has established links with other archives and experts, including Professor Christine Hallett of the UK Association for the History of Nursing, author of the recently published book – The nurses of Passchendaele.
The project will focus, through film-making and an exhibition, on a part of Spennymoor’s heritage that is not well known; namely the contribution made by some of its residents to medical services during the Great War. As part of this, we will particularly look at the role of women as qualified medical professionals. Sister Kate Maxey was a highly qualified nurse before the war and volunteered her services before the conflict began; we will further investigate her story and use reports and diaries to reconstruct the ‘typical’ role of professional nurses during the war. Spennymoor’s contribution to the war effort is also reflected in men who served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and as stretcher bearers, ambulance drivers and so forth. We will also feature two coalminers, both of whom won the Military Medal serving in the RAMC, and a Maths teacher who joined the Friends Ambulance Unit instead of being a combatant.
We aim to use individual stories to explain the complex infrastructure created to make the whole medical system work. This was significantly influenced by Sister Maxey’s colleague at Leeds General Infirmary, Sir Berkeley Moynihan, a leading surgeon who revolutionised wartime surgery. We plan to highlight the ‘then and now’ aspect of the project by comparing how medical services and the various roles highlighted have changed in the last 100 years. Through this we will look at changes to the following:
As a conclusion to the project we aim to stimulate wider research to explain what happened ‘behind the lines’, an aspect of the Great War that still receives far less attention than research into battles and campaigns.
The Society will look at the following heritage collections in making Behind the Lines :
The Society has commissioned Lonely Tower Film & Media to make Behind the lines.
The Society will assist in constructing the film narrative by sharing research and by making introductions to possible interviewees. Lonely Tower Film & Media would be responsible for :
After Behind the Lines has been produced
We will arrange community events to show the film using contacts within both the local community of Spennymoor and the wider heritage community of County Durham (through the County Durham History & Heritage Forum). Commonly these will take the form of a member of TSLHS showing the film to a local history group’s regular meeting;
We will be using the creative commons licence to make the film available through digital media such as YouTube and link this to the Society’s website. DVDs will also be made available for individuals to buy. Other research material will be published on the Society’s website and the Durham at War website;
We will relate the film to a small exhibition by preparing display boards and making these available in public buildings – the local library, Town Hall etc;
The exhibition/display will be accompanied by a leaflet;
We will work with the DLI Collection to develop a schools pack relating the film to the Edexcel History GCSE(9-1) curriculum -‘Medicine through Time’
We will work with the DLI Collection to use the film in schools and amongst community groups, highlighting connections to ‘Medicine through Time’.
For more information contact : John Banham on tel. 01388 816209 or email: email@example.com
John Banham 2017 Tudhoe & Spennymoor Local History Society.
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