Iris Maud Wootten - Wootten

Voluntary aid detachment member of the British Red Cross,
awarded a Silver War Badge

VAD Poster
VAD Poster

When, in 1848 the Manor of Heddington was broken up and sold, Headington House was purchased by by an Oxford banker William Wootten Undershell: he and his wife Sarah had nine children there between 1851 and 1866, all baptised at St Andrew's Church. Between 1867 and 1871, he changed his surname to Wootten, to become William Wootten Wootten).

Their fifth son, Aubrey Francis Wootten-Wootten, had been born in Headington House, Oxford, on19 September 1866. Educated at Rugby and Oriel College, Oxford, BA, 2nd Class Honours Jurisprudence, 1889, Aubrey was called to the Bar, Inner Temple, 1892. In 1893, he married Louisa Gertrude, daughter of D. Tremewen, solicitor, Falmouth.

A daughter from that union, Iris Mabel Wootten, came to be baptised on 4 July 1897, at St Mary the Virgin, Twickenham.

By 1900, the family had become the occupiers of Croft Field or House, College Road, Epsom. The baptism of a son, Patrick William Wootten Wootten, born 9 March 1901, was registered at Christ Church, the following 21 April. For the 1911Census, Iris may be found enumerated as a scholar boarding at Somerville House, Southwold, Suffolk. By the Great War, however, she had joined her family at Sunnyside, Downs Road, Epsom.

In February 1915 the War Office proposed that volunteers could help at Military Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) hospitals which had previously been staffed exclusively by army nurses and orderlies from the RAMC. Iris Mabel Wootten Wootten joined the VAD and was assigned to 2nd London General Hospital, Chelsea, on 7 September 1917 but retired from voluntary service by 8 March1918. A Silver War Badge, B13064, was awarded to her presumably under a condition laid down in Army Order 291 of 1918 - 'on account of disablement certified under the authority of the Army Council to be directly attributable to the action of the enemy, e.g., naval or air raids'. Not having been in an active war zone or near the coast, it may be assumed that she was disabled following an air raid. Heavy German losses had caused night operations against London to be suspended in February 1918.

It is possible that she was at St Pancras station on 17 February1918 when 5 bombs from a 'Giant' R25 - Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI type four-engined biplane, commanded by Leutnant Max Borchers or, according to another source, Hans-Wolf Fleischhauer, - killed 20/21 (including eight railway workers & one soldier) and injured 22, sheltering in the entrance arch, the latter total comprising a policeman and servicemen home on leave - 5 soldiers and a sailor. The Midland Grand Hotel was damaged, the station booking hall and 1st class waiting room wrecked.

Her father served as Chief Inspector V Division, Special Constabulary, 1914-19 rising to Assistant Commander, 1920, and was awarded an OBE for Police Work during war, 1921. He died suddenly after an operation at St Anthony's Hospital, Cheam, to be buried in Epsom Cemetery, 8 August 1923, aged 56. Probate 4 October 1923, effects £55,477:1:4, re-sworn 5 August 1925 £42,080. The widowed Louisa Gertrude Wootten of Red House, Frith Hill, Godalming, expired at Halsdown House, Exeter Road, Exmouth, Devon, on 29 May 1956: she was interred with her late husband at Epsom, 31 July 1956

Iris Mabel Wootten of Hillcrest, Redoubt Hill, Kingswear, Devon died on 15 March 1974.

Brian Bouchard, July 2016