VAD Maud Mackay

Voluntary Aid Detachment page

Red Cross, St John Ambulance Brigade and Royal Army Medical Corpsbadges

Maud Mackay
Surgical Nursing Duties


Maud Watkinson was born on 22nd March 1892 in Skipton. Her parents were John Shiers and Jane Watkinson nee Berry, both of Skipton. She was one of seven children, two of whom died in infancy. John was a farmer and butcher. In later records Maud's name is spelled 'Maude', however her birth registration and census records as spelled 'Maud'.

In 1901 they lived at Snaygill House in Bradley. As well as John and Jane, nine year old Maud lived with her older sisters Elizabeth (14), Edith (12), younger sister Florence (6) and her brother Harold (5). The family had a servant, 29 year old Ada Gill from Barrowford who lived with them also.

The Watkinson family on the 1901 Census

Still at Snaygill House in 1911, Jane was now widowed, John having died in 1908. Elizabeth, Maud and Harold are still at the farm. Jane was described as a farmer, with Harold working there, as well as a 22 year old cowman named William Linford from Menston. Elizabeth and Maud did not have an occupation listed.

On June 16th 1913 Maud married Lieutenant James Bruce Mackay at Gargrave Church. He was from Skipton but had been working in London for the boot manufacturers Freeman, Hardy and Willis before enlisting as a Hussar a month into the war. He had been promoted to the rank of Captain with the West Yorkshire Regiment, 21st Battalion (Wool Textile Pioneers) when he died of wounds after less than a year of marriage, on 3rd May 1917. He was buried at St. Nicolas British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.

Captain James Bruce Mackay, husband of Maud. Photo courtesy of

James and Maud's address at this time was The Orchard, Bakewell in Derbyshire.

Perhaps her young husband's death so early in their marriage was what inspired Maud to sign up as a VAD, she worked full time undertaking surgical nursing duties from June 1918 until June 1919. Her VAD card is stamped 'Matron War Hospital' so this is likely to mean she worked at Morton Banks. She gave her address as Snaygill House so I assume she returned to her family home after being widowed. Her sister Edith also worked as a VAD and her story will be added in due course.

Following the end of the war, Maud began travelling. Her sister Edith had emigrated to Canada early to work as a farmer in Ontario and Maud's immigration records show that she was intending to join her a few months later, in July 1920. Only five months later she was crossing the border into the USA to join an aunt, in Buffalo, New York. The records indicate that Maud stood 5' 9" tall, had brown hair and blue eyes.

The record of Maud's entry into Canada

One of James' military documents show that she also lived in Clarion, Pennsylvania at one point.

In March 1924 Maud travelled from Hong Kong to London, her address being back in Derbyshire, though it also states her last permanent address was the Hawaiian Islands.

Later in 1924, on 1st September, Maud married Hugh Douglas Aplin at St. Martin in the Fields Parish Church in Westminster. Hugh was a civil servant for the Sarawak government (Sarawak is a state within Malaysia, located on Borneo Island).

Hugh and Maud appear to have travelled a lot and spent most of their time living between Sarawak and England. They had one son, Douglas Anthony Aplin, born 22nd April 1927 in Kuching, Sarawak. They continued to travel back and forth.

The passenger list showing Maud, Hugh and Douglas travelling back to London in 1928

In 1939 Maud and Hugh lived in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, Hugh was by now retired. I believe Douglas was away at school. He  later joined the armed forces and was a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery at the time of his marriage in 1951 in Bodelwyddan in Wales.

Hugh died in the last quarter of 1959 in Devon. Maud died on 24th January 1977 aged 84 in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

England and Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
1901 England Census
1911 England Census
England and Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005
1939 England and Wales Register
England and Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919
James Bruce MACKAY | Soldier Record | Craven's Part in The Great War (
UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960
UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S., Arriving and Departing Passenger and Crew Lists, 1900-1959
Canada, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1865-1935
U.S., Border Crossings from Canada to U.S., 1895-1960
UK, Foreign and Overseas Registers of British Subjects, 1628-1969
England, Andrews Newspaper Index Cards, 1790-1976

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