Family search from the States

An academic medal which was found in a dusty display case in America has sparked an appeal to trace the family of a north Northumberland-born physician who lost her life in the Second World War.

United States Army officer, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Heatherly, has embarked on a personal search to find relations of Dr Molly ‘Mary’ Middlemass.

He is also keen to return the accolade he found to her family and wants to hear from anyone who can help.

It all stemmed from a Christmas shopping trip in 2012.

“I was looking for a present for my wife and I happened to find an academic medal from the University of Edinburgh tucked away in a display case at an antique store in Leavenworth, Kansas,” said Lt Col Heatherly, who is assigned to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The medal was awarded to Molly Middlemass for achievement in botany.

Keen to find out more, Lt Col Heatherly contacted the university and received her academic records from 1916 to 1921.

From the handwritten accounts, he learned that Molly was born to Mr and Mrs Edward Middlemass on November 3, 1898, in Craig Dhu, Stamford, near Alnwick.

She graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a degree in medicine and surgery in 1921.

By 1928, Molly – known as Mary – had opened a medical practice in Bath where she was a leading advocate for women’s health research and treatment.

By all accounts, she was a well-known and respected community figure who regularly appeared in local newspapers.

During the Second World War, Molly served as the medical officer at the Snow Hill First-aid Post in Bath.

She lived with her two sisters, Elsie and Jean, at 29 The Paragon, Bath, with two maids, Ms Enid Hawkins and Ms Freda Baker.

Tragically, all five women were killed in their home on April 26, 1942, during a German bombing attack.

Lt Col Heatherly said: “I gave the medal to my wife on Christmas Day and we both believed Molly’s life-story should be shared, and if possible, we wished to return the academic medal to her family.

“As fate would have it, we are good friends with a British couple with family in Alnwick.

“They graciously offered to help us in our quest. It is our hope that this appeal finds Dr Middlemass’ family and they will contact us in the United States.”

To contact Lt Col Heatherly with any information email