Queer Places:
5 Elm Rd, Winchester SO22 5ER, UK
60 Cambridge Terrace, London NW1 4JL, UK

Norah Desmond Hackett (1886–1940) had joined the Women's Emergency Corps (WEC) probably in early 1915. She served in Compiègne as the "Diréctrice" of the local Canteen for Soldiers until sometime in 1917 when there seems to have been a major administrative reorganisation. Earlier in the war, the five staff members of the WEC canteen in Compiègne, as a group, were awarded the Croix de Guerre, which, as the then Diréctrice, Hackett had been choosen to receive and wear. The award is mentioned in a reference from The British Journal of Nursing 1916 but unfortunately describes no date.

In London, Toupie Lowther and Norah Desmond Hackett, from Liverpool, assembled a number of cars to serve as ambulances. These were donated by a Miss Mary Dexter, the Misses Hancock, and a Miss Rachel Ripton. among others. They then collected a multinational team of women drivers via newspaper advertisements. From Britain there was Miss Francis Demisthorpe, Miss K. Hodges, Miss Enid Elliot, Miss B. Sterling. Miss Murphy, Miss G. Stuart Richardson. Miss Gartland, Miss Plimsoll, Miss Chappel Hodge, Miss C. Meade, Mrs A. Cox, Mrs Hanna, Miss G. Bailey, Miss Salvage, Case de Bellenoche, Miss Rachel Ripton and Miss Harvey. From Ireland there was the Hon. Eileen Plunket, from France there was Mlle de Montgeen, and from America there was Miss M. Dexter, Miss Moore, Miss Fitch, Miss Clarfts, Miss Smith, Miss Reid, and Miss Hawthorne.

Accounts suggest that several members of the unit had relationships with other women. It is believed that this ambulance unit, and in particular the experiences of Toupie Lowther, inspired Radcylffe Hall to write her lesbian novel 'The Well of Loneliness'.

Norah Desmond Hackett never married. In the 1920s she was living at 5, Elm-road, Winchester, and carrying on business at 36, Upper Baker-street, in the county of London. Previously she had lived at 60, Cambridge terrace, in the county of London.


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