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Stepping into wartime history

Regulus // Issue 2 // August 2023

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Jo Bailey, Regulus Editor, doing a Bible reading at the ANZAC Service at Brockenhurst.In April, Regulus Editor, Jo Bailey, was privileged to spend several days in Brockenhurst, in the heart of the New Forest, in Hampshire, United Kingdom, as the current Brockenhurst Scholar, a joint initiative by the Christchurch RSA, Sister Cities Christchurch (New Zealand), and Twinning Association (United Kingdom).

Jo won the scholarship in 2020, to do further research for the book she is writing about Christchurch nurse, Mildred Salt (née Ellis) who served at the No.1 New Zealand General Hospital in Brockenhurst between 1916 and 1918.
“My original travel plans were scuppered by COVID-19, so it was wonderful to finally have the opportunity to go,” says Jo.

During her visit, Jo spent a lot of time with Diana Fletcher, who is one of the custodians of St Nicholas Church, where 93 New Zealand World War I soldiers are buried. “Di is incomparable and has incredible energy for 81. She and her husband, Martin, met me off the train from London, and when we got back to their house for a cuppa, they had the New Zealand flag flying proudly above the front door. That night they hosted a barbecue for me with nearly 30 people from the village. I was so welcomed and spoilt.”

Jo attended the special ANZAC Service at St Nicholas Church, where she caught up with the Global Education Tour party, which included many St Andrew’s students and staff. “I was honoured to be asked to do a Bible reading and lay a wreath at the service. It was an incredibly moving day and I felt very close to Mildred as I walked around the old hospital site.”

Other highlights of Jo’s trip included visiting places like Beaulieu, and Lymington, which Mildred had described in her wartime diary. “Di was such a wonderful tour guide, taking me places and telling me stories that really brought Mildred’s wartime journey to life. She sent me home with armfuls of research.” Jo also spent a wonderful afternoon in nearby Christchurch with Tina Wright and Syd Ede of the Twinning Association where she was hosted by the mayor for afternoon tea and visited the Priory. “I had so many unforgettable experiences during the trip and feel honoured to be bringing Mildred’s story into the light.”

Regulus Editor and Brockenhurst Scholar, Jo Bailey, fulfills her research on Mildred Salt, attending a moving ANZAC Service.