“All I saw was the King and many blurred figures standing about”- from Newcastle Hospital to Buckingham Palace

It was Royal Red Crossa long journey, and took Matron Ida Greaves RRC, a graduate of Newcastle Hospital, via the battlefields of northern France and the Australian Voluntary Hospital (AVH).  This is the story of the day on which she was presented with the Royal Red Cross by George V, in her own words and related documents made available by her descendants:

“There was quite a big crowd outside the Palace Gates which gave us a reception … it was just 11a.m. and we were soon allowed through the gates, through the Archway, across the Quadrangle and then pulled up under the Portico, when several attendants in scarlet uniform opened the car door and bowed us on to a gorgeous rose coloured carpet … At the door leading into the room where the King was, the Lord Chamberlain stood and took your card commanding you to be  there and you were once again checked on the roll.  At the other side of the door stood a Lord in Waiting who intimated when to advance towards the King when your name was read out.  The King stood in the middle of the room next to a table, dressed in Khaki.  When our turn arrived he came and stood in front of the table and we advanced to him and curtsied, then he slipped the decoration on to a clip which had previously been attached to our dress in the corridor, shook hands and said he was very pleased to give it to us and smiled so nicely.  We curtsied again and backed out of the door into the corridor again which fortunately was not far.  It was an awful moment, all I saw was the King and many blurred figures standing about. …

Invitation to attend presentation of the Royal Red Cross at Buckingham Palace.  Reproduced courtesy Greaves family.

Invitation to attend presentation of the Royal Red Cross at Buckingham Palace. Reproduced courtesy Greaves family. Click on image to enlarge.

To-night the Colonel and I are invited to dine with General Sawyer something to do with the decorations I understand.  Tomorrow night the Sisters are giving me a dinner here, quite a big affair and a small play afterwards written by one of the Sisters.  That ought to be great fun but the dinner I am not looking forward to am deadly afraid they will expect me to make a speech.”

See also “No ordinary set of medals”

Menu for dinner in honour of Matron Greaves' award of the Royal Red Cross.   Reproduced courtesy  Greaves family.

Dinner in honour of Matron Greaves’ award of the Royal Red Cross – the illustration at the top of the menu depicts the Royal Red Cross between the Australian and British flags. As a compliment to Ida one of the desserts has been named “Gelee Newcastle”. Reproduced courtesy Greaves family. Click on image to enlarge.

Matron Ida Greaves and an officer.  Note the ribbon of the Royal Red Cross on the left side of the cape.  This photo was taken after 1 July 1916 when the AVH had been absorbed into the Royal Army Medical Corps, as Ida is wearing the uniform of the British nursing service.  Photo courtesy Greaves family archive.  Click on image to enlarge.

Matron Ida Greaves and an officer. The ribbon of the Royal Red Cross can just be seen on the left side of the cape – this would have been worn for “every day” with the cross itself reserved for ceremonial occasions. This photo was taken in 1918, after the AVH had been absorbed into the Royal Army Medical Corps – Ida is wearing the uniform of the British nursing service, Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve. Photo courtesy Greaves family archive. Click on image to enlarge.

One thought on ““All I saw was the King and many blurred figures standing about”- from Newcastle Hospital to Buckingham Palace

  1. Pingback: 100 years ago today, 12 July … | Great War Nurses from the Hunter

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