Wednesday, 16 May 2018

A bullet holed ambulance, and a shadowing story of a secret agent ....... Madge Addy from Chorlton

The story of Madge Addy is a fascinating one, not least because there is still more to discover.*

Madge Addy, 1938
On Saturday over 50 people gathered in front of number 34 Manchester Road to remember a very remarkable woman who was an active participant in two wars, was awarded the OBE and briefly worked here in Chorlton.

She remains a shadowy figure and until December 2016 I knew nothing about her, and even now the references to her work as a nurse during the Spanish Civil War and then her role as a secret agent in occupied France are fairly limited.

She wrote articles about the Spanish war which appeared along with her photograph in the Daily Worker, and there are fleeting references to her in books on both the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War.

And then like so many war heroes, she fades from the limelight.

But now there is a plaque which was unveiled on Saturday at 34 Manchester Road, which was attended by Cllr Eddy Newman, the Lord Mayor, and Jeff Smith MP for Manchester Withington, along with a representative from the British Legion.

In Marseilles
And interest is building.

Chris Hall, who organised the efforts to get the plaque, received a picture of Ms Addy with Wilhelm Holst during the Second World War, possibly in Marseilles.  Mr Holst was Madge Addy’s second husband and the picture comes from his grandson.

In time I am sure some of the gaps in the story will be filled, and only today I got an email from Margaret Riley who commented that Ms Addy was “Inspirational” and went on to say “I saw her bullet holed ambulance when she returned from Spain. Always remembered it.

The only ambulances I’d seen were the Disney printed ones, which would pick children up for tonsillectomies in the morning and bring them back in the afternoon.  I couldn’t see why this one had holes in it, and I can’t remember where I saw it, as I was taken to Stalybridge via Dukinfield and Ashton”.

The unveiling, 2018
Now I find that memory fascinating.  The news value of that bullet riddled ambulance will have been immensely useful in making the public aware of the war in Spain, and in particular, the illegal act staged by a group of the military against the democratically elected Government of Spain.

So, given that the date must be around 1938, a trawl of the Daily Worker and even the local Manchester papers may turn something up.

We shall see.

Picture; Madge Addy from the Daily Worker, 1938, in the company of Wilhelm Holst, date unknown, courtesy of Mr Host’s grandson and at the unveiling of the plaque, May 12, 2018 from the collection of Andrew Simpson

*Madge Addy,

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