The British war ef­fort

The Herald - - ARMISTICE: 100 YEARS -

hor­rors in field hospi­tals that burst at the seams with the wounded and dy­ing.

Elsie Inglis was born in In­dia and ar­rived in Scot­land as a child. She stud­ied at the Ed­in­burgh School of Medicine for Women and launched her own med­i­cal col­lege – in­deed, one of her stu­dents was Dr Mona Chalmers Wat­son.

She sug­gested women’s med­i­cal units to sup­port the men on the West­ern Front, only for her sug­ges­tion to be scoffed at by the British gov­ern­ment. “Go home and sit still,” she was told.

She didn’t lis­ten. With the sup­port of the French gov­ern­ment, within three months of the out­break of war she had es­tab­lished the Ed­in­burgh­based Scot­tish Women’s Hospi­tals and a 100-bed hos­pi­tal north of Paris that grew to 600 beds.

She ar­ranged for women’s units in other fight­ing ar­eas, and served in Ser­bia and Rus­sia be­fore be­ing di­ag­nosed with a ter­mi­nal ill­ness. She died the day af­ter ar­riv­ing home in Novem­ber 1917.

Other women were also pi­o­neer­ing vol­un­tary groups with a view to sup­port­ing the front­line wounded. Inglis’ fel­low suf­fragette, Kin­gussieborn Eve­line Haver­field worked with her in Ser­bia af­ter found­ing the Women’s Emer­gency Corps.

And Dr Flora Mur­ray, from Dum­fries, served in France with the Women’s Hos­pi­tal Corps. With her part­ner and col­league Dr Louisa Gar­rett An­der­son, they es­tab­lished mil­i­tary hospi­tals in Paris and Wimereaux.

Through­out the war some 80,000 women served across three forces: the Women’s Aux­il­iary Army Corp, the Women’s Royal Air Force, founded in April 1918, and the Women’s Royal Naval Ser­vice (known as Wrens), launched a year be­fore the Armistice was signed.

The taboo sur­round­ing women’s place in serv­ing their coun­try was be­ing bro­ken down.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.