What's the Story?


The story started when a box containing documents that had belonged to Ada was discovered in a loft in Guernsey. Liz Walton, her niece, remembered Ada talking to her in the 1950s and 60s about her time in France - the little dog she adopted in the trenches, French and Canadian girls with whom she became friends, and how she caught Spanish 'flu in 1918. When they watched the Armistice day celebrations, Ada would say that she could have been there, wearing her medals. But no-one in the family took much notice - it was just another story told by an elderly relative. Now there was evidence that all this had really happened, in the form of photos, a war worker's pass, passport, letters and notebooks.

Liz and Ada Le Poidevin

Liz with Ada Le Poidevin (Mrs Walter Bourgaize) in 1962


Intrigued by this, Liz tried to fill in some of the gaps in Ada's story. She consulted local and national experts in First World War history, and searched online. It soon became clear however that although a great many aspects of the Great War have been researched, little information is available about the work of ordinary Salvation Army women like Ada.

Reasons for this include the fact that some Salvation Army and Army central records were destroyed during the London blitz, and many local records went astray during the German Occupation of the Channel Islands. Also the Salvation Army Corps to which she belonged, St Sampson's, in Guernsey, is no longer active. In addition, the movement has always regarded its mission as being more important than its history. Salvation Army officers frequently moved around the country and abroad, with little evidence of their work in a particular place being recorded, and Ada wasn't an officer so her work was even less likely to be documented.

Despite these problems we remain convinced that the full story of the bravery and compassion of Ada and the other young women who worked with her in England and France during and after the Great War deserves to be told.

Listen to Liz telling the story or watch a video appeal