Frances Ivens

Mary Hannah Frances Ivens (1870 – 6 February 1944) CBE FRCOG

Buried in Kenwyn Churchyard

Dr Ivens was an obstetrician and gynaecologist who was the first woman appointed to a hospital consultant post in Liverpool. During the First World War she was chief medical officer at the Scottish Women's Hospital at Royaumont, northeast of Paris. For her services to the French forces she was awarded the Légion d'honneur and the Croix de Guerre.

In recognition of her service at Royaumont she was decorated by the French President with the Cross of the Légion d'honneur. In December 1918 she received the Croix de Guerre with palm, the citation reading: "...having ensured, day and night, the treatment of French and Allied wounded during repeated bombardment at Villers Cotterets in May 1918. On the approach of the enemy she withdrew her unit at the last moment to the Abbaye de Royaumont where she continued her humane mission with the most absolute devotion”. She was also awarded the Médaille d'honneur des épidémies. In 1926 she was elected vice president of the Liverpool Medical Institution. The University of Liverpool awarded her the honorary degree of Master of Surgery (ChM) in 1926 and in the same year she became a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

At the age of sixty she married widower Charles Knowles, and a few years later retired to Cornwall, living at Killagorden in the Idless Valley, Truro.

On the outbreak of the Second World War Frances acted as Medical Officer of Health for Cornwall (Red Cross) and was also Chairman of the Cornwall committee of the Friends of the Fighting French.

On 6th February 1944, Frances spoke to her housekeeper about the day’s business and walked through to her breakfast room, where minutes later she was found on the floor in a coma to which she would never wake up. She had suffered a Cerebal Bleed which proved fatal and she passed away later at Truro City Hospital. Her funeral was held at nearby Kenwyn Church attended by several colleagues from her Royaumont and Liverpool days. Her friend Dr Laila Henry wrote; "Frances was buried in a beautiful spot beneath a beautiful Copper beech tree."

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