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Evelyn May Cridlan
Born (1889-12-24)24 December 1889
London, England
Died 31 March 1961(1961-03-31) (aged 71)
London, England
Years active 1914–18
Known for being awarded:
Military Medal (1918)

Evelyn May Cridlan (24 December 1889 – 31 March 1961) was a British nurse and ambulance driver in the First World War. She was awarded the Military Medal in 1918 while serving in France as a driver in the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY.).[1] Her commendation noted the award was for "performing most efficient service in conveying the wounded to hospital during a bombing raid." [2][3] She was also one of the earliest members of the Women's Engineering Society and the first woman to be elected a member of the Military Medalist's League, serving as a committee member until she became ill.[4] On her death she left a legacy bequest of £100 to the Women's Transport Service.[5]

Personal life[edit | edit source]

Eight women in military uniform stand in front of vehicles in a black and white photo

A group of FANY members with the ambulances in Calais, January 1917.

Born in London on 24 December 1889, Evelyn May Cridlan was the daughter of John Joseph Cridlan and Ann Cridlan (née Harrison). She was the youngest of five siblings.[4][6]

Her hobbies were reportedly woodcarving and bookbinding.[4] She was charged with binding a presentation copy of the history of the FANY Corps for Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, who became the Corps' first Commander-in-Chief in 1933 and retained the role until her death in 1981.[7]

Military career[edit | edit source]

Cridlan attempted to enlist as an ambulance driver as soon as the First World War began, drawn to the role through her patriotism and love of engineering. She was initially unsuccessful as she lacked experience in driving heavy vehicles. She addressed this by then working for Gorringes, a department store in London with premises on Buckingham Palace Road.[8] Her experience as a delivery driver meant by 1917 she was posted to Calais, France, as a member of the FANY unit based there, focusing on moving invalided military personnel between aerodromes, stations and hospitals. Cridlan retained an active connection to FANY after the end of the First World War, and served as a staff officer in their London headquarters in the Second World War. When the building was bombed, she was a key figure in organising alternate offices alongside nearby St Paul's Cathedral.

Awards and decorations[edit | edit source]

UK Military Medal ribbon.svg Military Medal[9]

Military Medal[edit | edit source]

Cridlan was awarded the Military Medal in September 1918, for her conduct during an air raid on strategically important Marquise aerodrome near Boulogne-sur-Mer where she was stationed.[1] The site, which was used to receive newly delivered planes and repair damaged military aircraft, was bombed and strafed over several hours. Five and a half tonnes of bombs were dropped, 27 aircraft burnt and 46 damaged.[10] The RAF sustained heavy casualties, with 46 personnel killed.[11] Cridlan evidently found her experiences on that night distressing, not wishing to discuss the event and paraphrased in her obituary as saying, "never again would she see a harvest moon without seeing other things besides".[4]

Cridlan's investiture ceremony was held at Buckingham Palace on Saturday, 29 March 1919, the same occasion of that of two of her fellow nurses, Red Cross ambulance drivers, and FANY members, Mary D. Marshall and Christina M. Calder Urquhart.[12] Following the ceremony both British Red Cross and Military Medal recipients attended an event hosted by Queen Alexandria at Marlborough House.[13]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "The Genealogist - The Military Medal Collection". https://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/military-medal/?fWinner=9. 
  2. "Gloucester Journal". Gloucester Journal. 30 November 1918. 
  3. "Obituary - The Telegraph Historical Archive". The Telegraph. 6 April 1961. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 A correspondent. (7 April 1961). "Miss E. M. Cridlan". p. 17. http://0-find.galegroup.com.wam.leeds.ac.uk/ttda/infomark.do?&source=gale&prodId=TTDA&userGroupName=leedsuni&tabID=T003&docPage=article&searchType=BasicSearchForm&docId=CS285827207&type=multipage&contentSet=LTO&version=1.0. 
  5. "Woman holder of MM left £31,264". Coventry Evening Telegraph. 8 July 1961. 
  6. "Geoffrey-John-Heal - User Trees - Genealogy.com". https://www.genealogy.com/ftm/h/e/a/Geoffrey-John-Heal/WEBSITE-0001/UHP-0030.html. 
  7. "History" (in en). https://www.fany.org.uk/history. 
  8. Our City Staff. (27 January 1968). "Receiver at Gorringes.". The Telegraph. http://0-tinyurl.galegroup.com.wam.leeds.ac.uk/tinyurl/8a25aX.. 
  9. "Supplement to the London Gazette, 19 November 1917, page 11961". https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/30389/supplement/11961. Retrieved 16 December 2017. 
  10. Dye, Peter (15 September 2015) (in en). The Bridge to Airpower: Logistic Support for Royal Flying Corps Operations on the Western Front, 1914-18. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781612518404. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=TIIcCgAAQBAJ&lpg=PT123&dq=German%20raid%20on%20No%201%20ASD%20at%20Marquise%20on%2023/24%20September%201918&pg=PT123#v=onepage&q=German%20raid%20on%20No%201%20ASD%20at%20Marquise%20on%2023/24%20September%201918&f=false. 
  11. "Cemetery". https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/2027534/terlincthun-british-cemetery,-wimille/. 
  12. "WWI Medals | WWI" (in en). https://www.fany.org.uk/medals. 
  13. "NURSES HONOURED". Gloucester Journal. 29 March 1919. 

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