Maria Margaret Netherwood (1881–1956)

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Maria Margaret Netherwood (1881–1956)


Awarded the British Red Cross Society and Order of St John 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal, QAIMNS (Reserve) British War Medal and Victory Medal


Maria Margaret Netherwood, who chose to be known as Margaret throughout her life, was born in the city of Sheffield on 22nd March 1881, the daughter of Joseph Walshaw Netherwood and Eliza (neé Fenner). Sometime between 1891 and 1901, the Netherwood family moved to 6 Ashfield Road, Altrincham, and Margaret became a well-known member of St. Margaret's Church Institute (also in Altrincham).

In 1905, after training as a nurse at the Borough Hospital in Birkenhead, Margaret stayed on to serve for three years as staff nurse. Upon her departure from the Borough Hospital, in 1908, Margaret took up the post of charge nurse at Ilkeston Accident Hospital; later moving to Broadstairs, in Kent, to work in the General Institution.

When war broke out on 4th August 1914, Margaret became one of a party of only eight nurses who travelled with the Duchess of Sutherland to take charge of a hospital in Namur. The nurses spent six weeks on the front caring for injured soldiers before being captured by the Germans as prisoners of war. After four days they were released, on the condition that they would not return.

Following her release from German custody, Margaret defied these orders and returned to Belgium, to continue her work as a nurse. She is referred to by name in a number of official wartime documents, some of which throw light on her lively personality.
On 10th November 1917, Margaret married Canadian-born William Daniel Wesley Mills, at St. Clement’s Church, Chorlton cum Hardy.

After the war, Margaret left the United Kingdom: moving first to Canada, then to the United States of America, where she settled permanently. Margaret died on 7th November 1956.

Throughout her distinguished career as nurse in the First World War, Margaret kept a diary of her experiences. The Margaret Netherwood Mills Papers 1914–1918 were deposited with the Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University, California, in 1961.

A Blue Plaque commemorating the remarkable achievements of Margaret Netherwood was awarded by the Trafford Council and The Royal College of Nursing on 5th October 2018.


Trafford Local Studies Centre




Trafford Local Studies Centre, “Maria Margaret Netherwood (1881–1956),” Exploring Trafford's Heritage , accessed June 13, 2024,