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Rosamond Heath 
of Ebernoe in Sussex

Born: in Australia in 1893 and died 1970.
Daughter of: Admiral Sir Herbert Leopold Heath (1861-1954) and Elizabeth Catherine Simson (?-1951).
Sister of:
1. Madeline Marion de Salis (nee Heath, 1892-1978) who married Capt Rodolph de Salis (1890-1972).
Rosamund never married.

Rosamond Heath: An Overview

We know about Rosamond from the following sources:

1. Entry in the book "Records of the Heath Family Vol 2" by George Heath, 1920.

The entry in Records of the Heath Family Vol 2, page 54, reads as follows:



At the outbreak of war, I was a nursing member of the V.A.D., Hants 14, and worked with them at Branksome Red Cross Hospital for the first year of the war. Our sixty beds were generally pretty full, mostly with convalescents, and though we had a few serious cases in times of stress, the general atmosphere was cheerful, and, I am afraid, unprofessional, certainly a change from the Military Hospital from which our cases came. After some months at a Red Cross Hospital at 13, Grosvenor Crescent, London, and a long spell of enjoyable leave, I was appointed in Nov., 1916, under the W.O. scheme to Beaufort War Hospital. The work here was very interesting, but after living for a year in the work-house, standing in the grounds of the converted lunatic asylum, where we worked, I jumped at my first chance of foreign service, and in Dec. 1917, embarked for Egypt.

Very few of our party had ever been abroad, but a succession of harnessed Red Cross officials and R.T.O.'s (Railway Transport0 shepherded us and our bulky kits safely through Boulogne, Paris, Turin, Rome, and landed us exhausted and amazingly dirty, in an Army hut at Taranto.

My memories of the rest camp are - Christmas dinner, wonderfully provided by the resident staff, and an endless splashing on inefficient "duck boards" through the mud between our sleeping hut, mess hut, and the so-called bath hut. Certainly no one was sorry when we embarked in H.M.T. Osmanich. I do not think we were much alarmed at hearing of the many occasions on which she had been chased by enemy submarines, or that she would sink in three minutes if hit. The life belts we kept ready by us day and night, and the frequent boat-drills were certainly taken as a mild joke, and nurses, officers, and men, spent the two days passage basking peacefully in the Mediterranean sunshine.

On the morning of Dec.31st, 1917, we sighted Alexandria, and were slowly approaching the harbour, three or four mine-sweepers ahead, our escorting Japanese destroyers on either beam, when I went below to finish my packing. Then - crash, a rush of water, a sudden stillness . . . I snatched up my life-belt, and ran for the companion, this and the slanting deck were already crowded, but voices shouted "Ladies first," and "Make room for the nurses," and I soon found myself among the white-faced troops lined up opposite our boat. I had just time to feel thankful that we had reached the water, when suddenly the boat capsized. Something clutched my shoulder under water, and we went down, but in an instant I was free again, and felt my life-belt pulling me to the surface. The sea was littered with overturned boats and odds and end of wreckage, and I and the inevitable cheerful Tommy were soon steering a bit of board, and gasping to each other that "we were all right now." I had very little idea of time on that day, but imagine that it was about a quarter-of-an-hour later that I was hauled over the Jackal's side, and sent, very unwillingly, down to the ward-room, where a kind-hearted but agitated steward fed us on rum and cocoa.

Some good Samaritans had rigged up a shelter on the quay, where they provided us with dry clothing of sorts, and by the time we arrived at No. 19 General Hospital we were sufficiently recovered to jeer at each other's appearance trailing up the steps, each attired chiefly in an Army blanket, clutching in one hand a dripping bundle of our own belongings, and in the other a bag of Red Cross treasures. At that time we imagined  that the missing members of the party had been picked up in some other vessel and not yet landed, and it was not until the next day that we realised that eight out of twenty-seven nurses on the nursing staff, and an unknown number of troops, I believe about 200, had been lost.

My fifteen months stay in Egypt was comparatively uneventful. No. 21 General Hospital, where I was stationed, was on the outskirts of Alexandria, right on the sea, so that the heat was never unbearable, and we had eight months of glorious bathing in the year.

As to our duties, it was a relief, after English hospital life, to find that all the heavy work was, at least in theory, done by Tamargies or native orderlies. Although too far from the fighting line to get many wounded, we were kept fairly busy with malaria and dysentery, and made up for slack time by occasional rushes of work, particularly after the final advance in Palestine, when every corridor was lined with beds, and hospital ships arrived daily, crowded with a few out of the cases waiting in thousands, sometimes on stretchers on the bare ground at Tripoli, Haifa and Beirut.

After the Armistice, the one thought of patients and staff alike was - HOME, but the months dragged on, and though I was among the lucky early ones, it was not until March 31st, 1919, that I landed at Southampton, and was demobilised the following day.


A note from Roger Patterson written in 2013. 
I have read with interest your page on Rosamund Heath. You ask for further information.  It was Rosamund, not Rosamond as stated in a couple of places.  I knew her through beekeeping from when I started in 1963 and joined the Wisborough Green Beekeepers Association, until her death in 1970. She had been Chairman since WGBKA was formed in 1947 until her death. I succeeded her and the two of us chaired for 50 years.  I knew little of her beekeeping apart from how she started. Apparently she bought a hive of bees from a well known local beekeeper called George Wakeford. He delivered it by carrying it on his back for about 3 miles.  I'm afraid I have no photographs of Miss Heath, but I do remember her driving a beige Morris or Austin 1100. I also remember attending a meeting at Ebernoe House.  I don't think chairmanship of WGBKA was too demanding as the minutes of the 1957 committee meeting were signed in 1963!


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