32 Chelsea Bridge Rd, Chelsea, London SW1W 8RQ, UK
The Honourable Mrs. Barnard was born Eileen Hermoine Plunket (July 15, 1896 - May 28, 1966) in Ireland on 15 July 1896, the second daughter of the 5th Baron Plunket, William Lee Plunket, and his wife, Lady Victoria Alexandrina Muriel May Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, daughter of the 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava.
She served during the Great War as a Driver with the Hackett-Lowther unit, attached to the French Red Cross, in France from July 1918, and was awarded the French Croix de Guerre. The Hackett-Lowther unit, founded in London in August 1917 by Norah Desmond Hackett and May Toupie Lowther, was a private British women’s ambulance outfit, and served in France under the control of the French Third Army, the British Army refusing to have anything to do with them. They performed valuable work in transporting the wounded to and from evacuation hospitals and stations on the railways, driving by day and night wherever they were sent.
Eileen Plunket served in the Hackett-Lowther unit alongside her “close friend” Miss Enid Elliot; indeed, ‘it seems likely that a significant number of women in the unit were lesbians- given Toupie Lowther’s arresting “masculine appearance”, it seems unlikely that women who had conventional views on sexual morality or the role of women in society would have wanted to join the unit.’
In 1931 Plunket got engaged to Captain Rowland Lionel Barnard, which was reported in the newspapers under the heading ‘An Interesting Engagement’, and they married at Christ Church, Down Street, Mayfair, London, on 12 October 1931. Their honeymoon ‘consisted of a motoring trip to Trieste, from where they caught a boat to Cairo, arriving in time for the start of the racing season.’ She re-kindled her friendship with Miss Elliot in the 1930s, and died in 1966.
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