On 21 April 1919, Newcastle’s John Ogg replied to a request from the Imperial War Museum for a photograph of his daughter Kate. It was the day before what would have been her 32nd birthday. She had died just eight weeks earlier.
In this guest blog post, Arthur Andrews and Chris Jackson from the Heaton History Group share the research that they have carried out to piece together Kate’s life story.
- Before the war
Kate Elizabeth Ogg was born in Newcastle upon Tyne on 22 April 1887. By the time she was four, the Ogg family had moved to Bolingbroke Street in the suburb of Heaton. Bolingbroke Street is one of a number of streets in the area named after Shakespearean characters and it was a project to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the bard’s death that led Heaton History Group to look at the lives of some of the streets’ former residents – including Kate.
We discovered that, after leaving school, Kate was employed as a teaching assistant. By 1912, she was teaching needlework at Wingrove Council School.
At the outbreak of war, Kate started training with St John Ambulance and, two years later, she made a momentous decision. On 16 April 1916, it was noted in the school log book: ‘Miss Kate E Ogg ceases duty today (pro tem) to take Military (Hospital) Duty on May 1st’.
Red Cross records show that she was engaged as a VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) nurse, serving firstly in Fulham Military Hospital, London; then Liverpool Military Hospital before returning to Newcastle in March 1917 to serve at the 1st Northern General Military Hospital.
The war officially ended, of course, on 11 November 1918 but there were still casualties to care for and the need for nurses was greater than ever when troops travelling home from theatres of war brought with them a deadly strain of influenza, in which 25 to 40 million people are estimated to have died worldwide. The virus spread quickly in cities like Newcastle and young adults such as returning soldiers and nurses like Kate, who looked after them, were worst affected.
On 23 February 1919, Kate died from pneumonia whilst on active service. She is buried in St John’s Cemetery, Newcastle in a simple grave, where her parents were eventually laid to rest with her.
We found Kate’s name on a number of war memorials. She is recorded on Wingrove School War Memorial as well as in The National Union of Teachers War Record: a short account of duty and work accomplished during the war. Her name appears on the St John Ambulance Brigade Number VI Northern District war memorial, currently stored at Trimdon Station Community Centre, County Durham as well as the St John Ambulance Roll of Honour.
Kate’s name can also be seen in York Minster where the Five Sisters window and oak panels commemorate 1,400 women across the British Empire known to have died as a result of service in the First World War.
- Imperial War Museum
It is thanks to the work of the IWM’s Women’s Work Subcommittee, during and immediately after the war, that 100 years later we know what Kate looked like and can read her father’s letters. Over the past two years many thousands of women, including Kate, have been researched further as part of the Lives of the First World War project.
Kate Elizabeth Ogg will never be forgotten.