In memory of Caroline Maud Edwards

Caroline Maud Edwards was born in Llanharry, near Llantrisant, in 1887 to Evan Prosser Edwards and his wife Erena Ellen. Caroline had many siblings. Evan, a surgeon’s son, lived in Llantrisant as a child and was a mariner when he married Erena at Bassaleg church, Newport, in 1878.

© IWM (WWC H21-32)

In the 1890s the family lived in Port Townsend, Washington (between Seattle and Vancouver), where three of the children were born. By 1901 the family had returned to Wales and settled in Rockfield, Monmouth, where Evan, 45, lived on his own means.

Caroline won scholarships during her education in Monmouth. After studying at Bedford College she started her nursing career at a London hospital.

She joined Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service around the time the First World War began. She served at Royal Navy hospitals in Gosport, near Portsmouth, and on the Isle of Wight. Later she transferred to HMHS Drina, the first ship to be requisitioned by the authorities for conversion to a hospital ship.

In December 1915, HMHS Drina was one of a group of Royal Navy ships moored at the Cromarty Firth, north of Inverness. On 30 December the captain of HMS Natal hosted Christmas entertainments on board for local residents. Caroline and two other nurses from HMHS Drina also attended.

The party was in full swing when ammunition stored in the ship exploded at c.3.30pm, setting off further explosions. HMS Natal sank in a few minutes. Despite its proximity to the shore and other ships, only 170 people were rescued. The 422 who died included local children and all three nurses.

The wreck is protected as a war grave. It is the final resting place of Nursing Sister Caroline Maud Edwards, who died aged 28. She is commemorated at the Chatham Naval Memorial in Kent, and at the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle. Her name was omitted from Monmouth war memorial for many decades but added at the request of members of the local Royal British Legion.

Footnote: Caroline’s middle name is spelled as Maude on Monmouth war memorial and in the caption to her portrait, shown here thanks to the Imperial War Museum, but as Maud in most official records.

Return to Monmouth war memorial page
Return to Newport war memorial page

soldier at graveside icon