Louisa Watson Tulloh (1860-1952)

Guildford War Hospital’s Matron, Miss Louisa Watson Tulloh is, as far as we are aware, the only nurse to have been decorated with the Royal Red Cross, twice!

Photo of Louisa Watson Tulloch in 1899
Photo of Louisa Watson Tulloh in 1899, who became Matron of Guildford War Hospital during WWI. With kind permission from the Royal College of Nursing Archive.

Tulloh started her nursing career in Egypt in 1888. The work was tough with no clean water and high temperatures:

“The hospital was a stable diverted from its proper use for the time being, and the Sisters’ quarters were a mud cabin and they hung up a blanket at the entrance for a door. The temperature was then 100 to 120°, so the heat may be imagined. The only water for the use of the patients was Nile water, which, as the river was rising, was very muddy. It as filtered, and necessarily so, for the Sisters had to undergo the unpleasant experience of seeing dead camels and donkeys floating down this, there only supply of drinking water. A live camel is an unwholesome looking object enough, but a dead one, in one’s drinking water, must be a sight calculated to make one extremely moderate as to the amount one consumes. In additional to the heat, and the dead camels and donkeys, there were mosquitoes and sand flies to reckon with, so that the trials of the time were very real.” (Nursing Record & Hospital World, 7th Oct 1899, 290-291)

In recognition for her services – tending to the sick and wounded in Egypt – Louisa Watson Tulloh received her first Royal Red Cross in June 1887, and her second in September 1901 for services in the Boer War. As highlighted at the time, being honoured with two Royal Red Crosses must have been a unique occurrence!

Tulloh moved to Guildford to become Matron of the Guildford Ward Hospital during The Great War. Again, she was awarded for her services with a Bar to the Royal Red Cross for war services (March 1919).

Louisa’s scrapbook and medals can be found at the Army Medical Services museum in Keogh Barracks

Nursing Record & Hospital World 1889 7th October, 290-291
The Edinburgh Gazette 1897 22nd June, 1897
The Edinburgh Gazette 1901 1st October, 1094
The London Gazette 1919 14th March, 3583.
The London Gazette 1919 May 20th
The London Gazette 1919 20th May

Nursing in the 1920s

Photo of Elizabeth Flemming with a baby at Warren Road Hospital, 1928.
Elizabeth Flemming with a baby at Warren Road Hospital, 1928. With kind permission from Joan Robinson

An advertisement appeared in a daily paper in 1927 requiring girls for training at Warren Road Infirmary. Ellen (Elizabeth) Flemming applied and was accepted, here is her account:


“The first year was hard work, we were up against the rough assistant nurses who ruled the roost but they soon left once it became a training school. We had a small maternity unit of about five beds where I saw my first baby born and I was terrified. The midwife was middle aged and a real Sarah Gamp style! She did not explain anything. She just leered and said, ‘what about getting married nurse?’ Horrible woman and hard as nails. I remember saying ‘No, I am never going to get married’ as I mopped up the dirty sheets in the sluice and wiped my eyes with the corner of my apron. Goodness, what changes then, but what an experience those years provided. It took some doing but turned out some excellent nurses with the character and courage of Florence Nightingale.”

(Extract from Millennium Memories)