The mysterious death of Florence Nightingale Shore

Steam Train at full speedThe death of Florence Nightingale Shore could have been straight from the pages of an Agatha Christie mystery.

Yet, nearly one hundred years later, mystery still surrounds the death of Nurse Shore.

Florence Shore, a nurse and god-daughter to that most famous nurse, Florence Nightingale, was found brutally beaten on a Sussex bound train at Bexhill. On January 12th, 1920, she had been travelling on a London, Brighton and South Coast express train when she was attacked on her compartment on board. She fought for four days to stay alive but eventually died due to the extent of her injuries.

Florence Nightingale three quarter length

Florence Nightingale [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Florence had spent most of her nursing career, some twelve years or so, working across Wearside in the Northeast of England helping the sick and needy. However, she was an adventurous soul and had worked as a Governess in China for three years before starting her nurse training at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in 1893.

Her good friend, Mabel Rogers had accompanied Florence to Victoria railway station to see her off on her journey on the 3:20pm train to St Leonards. Mabel was the first witness at the inquest into Florence’s death and Mr Glanister, The Coroner, that she had known Florence for twenty-six years and they had shared a house after her demobilisation from the Queen Alexandria’s Imperial Nursing Corps with whom she had served in France. Her testimony continued that on arrival at the train she had searched for a suitable compartment for her friends to travel in. Finding an empty one, Florence boarded the train with her dispatch box and umbrella and sat in the right-hand corner of the compartment facing forwards towards the engine. Mabel continued to say that at about three minutes before the train was due to depart a man neither of the women knew, boarded the train entering the same compartment. Mabel could not recall seeing the man’s face, but told the inquest the man had been wearing a ‘brownish tweed suit’. She could not recall him wearing a coat but felt he could have been carrying one over his arm.

Continuing her testimony to the inquest Mabel was asked what jewellery, Florence normally wore. The Dundee Evening Telegraph reported that she replied Miss Shore normally wore a gold ring with diamonds mounted in platinum and a ring with turquoise and small diamonds as well as a plain gold ring. Only the plain gold ring was left on her friend’s hand she added.

The Nottingham Journal and Express reported on the 20th January 1920 that a man who was due to board a boat to Ostend was detained at the port of Dover. Detective Inspector Haigh of Scotland Yard travelled to Lewes to investigate but the man was later released without being charged.

The murder remains an unsolved case.

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