Photograph of Annie (Nancy)
taken in Torquay, 13 . 3 . 15

Background

1874

Annie Brewer, later Mistrick, was born in Newport in 1874.  At the age of 24, she qualified as a nurse of ‘insane persons’ and worked in hospitals around Britain including in London and Chester, before travelling around Europe as a personal nurse and companion.

War Record

While in Paris in 1914, WWI broke out and she joined up with French nursing and ambulance services, the Fondation Baye, seeing action in war zones including the Marne, the Somme and Verdun.  She helped with 229 operations in 7 days at the battle of Verdun. On one occasion the ambulance in which she was travelling was shelled and she was wounded in the head and leg.  She also came under shellfire while working in a French hospital.  The strain led to a period of serious illness, but she insisted on returning to duty once she recovered.

Annie Brewer, fifth from right in the back row,
with nurses in France during WW1

Annie Brewer was wounded when
treating a soldier, and was awarded the
Croix de Guerre

Marriage

Her work fed over into her personal life when she met French ambulance driver, Daniel Mistrick, marrying him on the Verdun battlefield according to French genealogy sources.  She remained in Europe, working at a feeding station in Germany after the war ended with the French army of occupation.

Death

1921

However, in 1921, she returned to Newport to nurse her ailing mother at 23 West Street, but was herself seriously ill and died of kidney disease, Bright’s disease, on 30 January 1921 aged 46.  Although she’s buried at St.Woolo’s cemetery, she currently doesn’t have a war grave. Gwent Western Front Association are campaigning for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to put her on their register.

Blue Plaque

The Western Front Association unveiled a blue plaque on West Street with guests including members of Mrs. Mistrick’s family, Health Minister Vaughan Gething and pupils from St. Woolo’s primary school, on January 30th 2018.

However, despite her incredible record, little is known of the nurse’s life, and of the day she almost died when her hospital was attacked.  Her great-nephew Ian Brewer has been fascinated by her story for more than 50 years. He travelled to France to follow in the footsteps of the remarkable nurse.

Find out more