Darton Patience (m. Edney)

Patience Darton (m. Edney)

Patience Darton was born in Orpington on 27th August 1911. Her father was a book publisher whose business went bust when she was a small child. Her mother was from a comfortable background and had no experience of managing without money, which made life especially difficult having three sons as well as Patience, and seeking to keep up appearances.

Though from a high church background, as a young woman Pateince attended Christian Socialist churches. She was taught in a private school in St Albans, she ended education at the age of 14 years.

Patience herself then went on to teach children privately and in a private school. She even worked in a tea shop, before doing training as a nurse and midwife in London, which led her to the east end and an increasingly sharpened political consciousness, which resulted in her beginning to vote for the Labour Party.                                               Pic: Patience in 1937

A Spanish Medical Aid Committee in July 1936 was set up within days of the start of resistance to Franco’s fascist rebellion, exemplifies this. Within a month, it had raised enough funds for a 30-strong unit of a range of medical staff, ambulances to be sent to Spain. Patience was a part of all this and soon felt impelled herself to go herself to Spain.                          

Her first job there, in February 1937, was to nurse Tom Wintringham (see separate entry) in hospital in Valencia. She then worked in medical units in Aragon, Brunete, Tereul, and in the cave hospital near the Ebro. On her return to London, she joined the Communist Party.

Patience married another volunteer in Spain, Eric Edney (see separate entry), with whom she had a son, Robert. Her work turned to the instruction of nurses in the work of war nursing for the London County Council. In the 1950s, she went to China to work as an interpreter and at the Foreign Languages Press. She was active in the International Brigade Association until her death in Madrid on 6th November 1996.


 Pic left: Patience in her later years



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