Phyllis Martin – The Story of a Volunteer Nurse in the Great War
Phyllis Martin was born in Plymouth in 1889. She was the daughter of Sir Richard Byam Martin, whose father was a former Commander-in-Chief of Plymouth, and whose grandfather Sir Thomas Byam Martin, had been Admiral of the Fleet, and had served Plymouth for many years as an MP.
The youngest of three sisters, her fiancé was an early victim of the War – he was killed in action on 14 September 1914. Shortly afterwards Phyllis, who was then living at No.7 The Esplanade, on the Hoe, signed up as a Voluntary Aid Detachment, a volunteer nurse, and by January 1915 was working at the South Devon and East Cornwall Hospital (later Greenbank).
Over the course of the next four years she would help look after wounded servicemen at a number of ad hoc hospitals around the UK: Plympton, Millbay, Exeter, Longleat, Willersley (Derbyshire) and Bray (Co. Wicklow, Ireland).
Fortunately for us, Phyllis Martin was a keen photographer and in addition to the autograph books that so many VADs circulated, Nurse Martin also compiled a unique pictorial record of her five years in uniform.