‘She worked miracles’: Soham nurse who saved 75 servicemen as ship sunk during D-Day invasion to be commemorated on Normandy memorial
PUBLISHED: 13:26 08 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:19 08 April 2019
An incredibly brave young woman from Soham who sacrificed her life to save 75 servicemen during the D-Day invasions will be commemorated on a British memorial in Normandy.
Sister Mollie Evershed was one of two women out of more than 22,000 men who died as a result of the amphibious landings in 1944.
She passed away on August 7 1944 after the HMHS Amsterdam sank having struck a mine off Juno Beach.
The selfless 27-year-old, who was a former pupil of Ely High School, left her lifeboat to return to the hospital carrier along with another nurse and managed to carry 75 men to safety.
Both of them went down with the ship.
Mollie had lived with her parents in Soham and went to Ely High School from 1928 to 1932 before training as a nurse in Norwich.
She served with the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service that was one of the units deployed to Normandy to help injured servicemen.
Both Mollie and fellow nurse Dorothy Field are commemorated on the Bayeux Memorial to the missing as their bodies were never recovered.
Mollie’s name is also remembered on the Soham war memorial.
But now, as part of a unique project by the Normandy Memorial Trust called 75 Stories, Mollie’s story has been brought to life thanks to former Ely High School pupil Christine Fuller.
Although Christine attended the school more than 20 years after Mollie left, it wasn’t until 2005 that she came across her story in one of the old copies of the school magazine.
The 67-year-old, who is also organiser of the Old Girls of Ely High School group, said: “She was an incredibly brave young woman who worked miracles to save as many servicemen as possible in horrendous conditions.
“When I was at school I never heard of her story, it appeared it just wasn’t spoke about, but then in 2005 I came across an account of her in a school magazine of 1945.
“I was moved and honoured to then voice her story as part of the trust’s 75 Stories. It has already had about 7,000 hits in a few days of being online.
“Mollie was one of a fantastic bunch of ladies who were responsible for saving so many lives.
“In one piece about Mollie it was believed there was a glimpse of her or Dorothy trying to squeeze her hips through a porthole.”
Both Sisters were awarded the King’s Commendation for Brave Conduct.
A site has now been chosen for the memorial near the village of Ver-sur-Mer overlooking the remnants of the 1944 floating harbour at Arromanches.
Theresa May and Emanuel Macron are due to be present at the laying of the foundation stone on June 6.
Christine continued: “There are no photo’s of Mollie just one school photo from that era which is essentially just a series of faces.
“When I was at school her niece was also there at the same time, but I’m not sure what happened to her or if she even knew the extent of Mollie’s story.
“Her name was Christine Tricker and her mother had a hairdressing salon in Soham, so it would be interesting to find out if she is still alive too.
“The Normandy Memorial Trust is still raising funds to complete the building works and I would like it to gain wider public and local interest as the 75th anniversary is drawing closer.”
After Mollie’s death, her parents received 75 letters of gratitude from the servicemen who she saved.
Normandy Memorial Trust secretary, Nicholas Witchell, said: “The story of Mollie Evershed brings home both the scale of the contribution of people in every part of Britain towards the success of D-Day - and the scale of the human sacrifice.
“Mollie Evershed lost her life in the cause of Europe’s freedom.
“She, and the 22,441 others who gave their lives, deserve to have their names honoured on this long-overdue memorial.
“We hope Britain will get behind it.”
Christine will be holding a reunion of the Old Girls of Ely High School group where she will talk about Mollie at a lunch on May 18 at Ely Golf Club.
To discover more about the memorial, Mollie or donate to the project visit http://www.normandymemorialtrust.org/d-day-75-story/d-day-75-stories-sister-mollie-evershed/