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Museum team in call for a blue plaque dedication to hero nurse

jpco 30-4-14 Jonathan Parret and Rick Leigh have asked CBC to erect a blue plaque in honour of a nurse (Louisa Colt-Williams) who was captured by the Germans during WWI.(Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-140424-115050001

jpco 30-4-14 Jonathan Parret and Rick Leigh have asked CBC to erect a blue plaque in honour of a nurse (Louisa Colt-Williams) who was captured by the Germans during WWI.(Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-140424-115050001

Members of the Crawley Museum Society have called for a blue heritage plaque to be dedicated to a nurse from Ifield who was honoured for her heroism during World War One.

Louisa Colt-Williams was captured by the Germans in 1918 after their forces over ran her hospital in the Aisne area of France.

The hospital – Le Chateau de Beamieux – was the closest to the front lines and Louisa refused to leave the men who were in her care.

As a result, she spent four-and-a-half months as a prisoner of war at the 261st Field Lazarette (hospital for those with an infectious disease), at Beaurieux.

While still being held by the Germans, Louisa, who lived at the Old Rectory, in Ifield, was awarded the Croix de Guerre (Cross of War) by the French authorities for refusing to abandon the wounded men.

She died at the tragically young age of 31 on September 13 1920.

She had served her country for five years.

Rick Leigh, of Crawley Museum Society, said: “She was a hero.

“One of the other nurses was shot.

“To be taken prisoner by the Germans and for her to go through what she went through – the way she was treated – I think a plaque is really worthy.”

Rick and fellow museum member Jonathan Parret have approached Crawley Borough Council’s arts council to ask them to erect a blue plaque in at the Old Rectory in Louisa’s name.

The blue plaque scheme was launched by English Heritage in 1986 to commemorate the link between notable figures of the past and the buildings in which they lived and worked.

Crawley has nine such plaques, three of which are dedicated to women.

The plaques are in honour of: Quaker and education pioneer Sarah Robinson (1787-1875); poet and essayist Francis Thompson (1859-1907); John Goepel (1906-1994), who named the streets of Crawley New Town; author Frederick Knott (1916-2002), who wrote Dial M For Murder; Quaker and prison reformer Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845); land speed record breaker Sir Malcolm Campbell (1885-1948) ; electrical engineer Dame Caroline Haslett (1895-1957); Worth Park garden designer James Pulham (1845-1920); and architect Philip Webb (1831-1915).

Carolyn Murphy, the council’s arts development manager, said: “Crawley Arts Council have agreed to support the plaque in principle.

“They are waiting for more information from Rick and there is also a suitable location to be agreed.”

 

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