Olive Louise Bennett

Ford Park Cemetery

Welcome to the second of four articles about health figures buried at Ford Park Cemetery.

Olive was born in 1887 in Yarmouth, the youngest of 3 daughters of Walter, a grocer, and Lucy Bennett. By 1901 the family were living in Plymouth where Walter was a self raising flour manufacturer.

Olive was a VAD nurse, a member of the 4th Devon Voluntary Aid Detachment, from the 3rd November 1915. She died at the Ford Military Hospital on the 30th October 1916, where she had been working up to 3 days before her death, the cause of which was “as a result of her too constant and strenuous work”, and acute diabetes.

She was the first nurse in this military district to die on active service and was accorded a military funeral.

The first part of the funeral took place at the nurses home at Springfield, Milehouse Road. Many wreaths were sent from the VAD military hospitals in the area; and a large number of nurses, and convalescent soldiers from the ward where Olive worked, attended, along with Matrons from the military hospitals.

On leaving Springfield the coffin, covered with a Union Jack, was placed on a gun carriage, with bearers from the Royal Army Medical Corps. and the band of the Worcester Regt. They proceeded to Ford Park Cemetery, or the Plymouth Old Cemetery as it was known then.

A large number of people were waiting at the cemetery gates for the procession to arrive. Among those present at the cemetery were officers and representatives from the military hospitals and the British Red Cross Society. 

A party of buglers sounded the “Last Post” when the coffin had been lowered into the grave.

In 2017 a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone was added to her grave, over 100 years after her death.

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