THE GREAT WAR REVISITED (SVEDOČANSTVA IZ PRVOG SVETSKOG RATA)
by SLAVICA POPOVIC FILIPOVIC
We all have a great privilege in that the book THE GREAT WAR REVISITED by Slavica Popovic Filipovic, published by the Historical Archive of Valievo in Serbia, has come out at the time of the Centennial of the death of Dr. Elsie Maud Inglis (1864-1917), the Scottish surgeon, and the founder and head of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service. The Book “The Great War Revisited” was the product of many years of meticulous research about the foreign medical missions, and numerous individuals, who came to help the Serbian people during the Great War. Following the appeal by the Serbian Red Cross Society, various medical missions and medical supplies arrived in Serbia from Russia, Great Britain, France, USA, Switzerland, Netherlands, Greece, Denmark, as well as individual volunteers from Poland, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ireland, Norway, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Dr. Elsie Inglis holds an outstanding place among the humanists, and so do the Scottish Women’s Hospitals among the medical missions. Out of the total of ten Scottish Women’s Hospitals that were intended for the Serbs, four operated in Serbia itself (in Kraguyevats, Valievo, Mladenovats, and Lazarevats), three were located at the Salonika Front, and one each in France, Corsica, the Russian Front, and in Dobrudja. During the occupation of Serbia by the Central Powers, one SWH Hospital still operated in Krushevats. While after the War, those were located in Vranie and Belgrade. The Serbian people cherish the memory of the dedication of Dr. Elsie Inglis and the SWH to the Serbian patients. In September 2017, the abovementioned towns in Serbia will have a great privilege to receive the Scottish delegation consisting of the descendants of Dr. Elsie Inglis. Thus will be marked the Centennial of the death of this great heroine, as well as the Centennial of the SWH for Foreign Service.
During the several years of the research, the author was assisted by many libraries, archives, and private collections in Serbia, Great Britain, and Australia. Special thanks goes to Mr. Bob Filipovich, the translator from Australia, Mr. Velibor Vidich, the historian from Valievo (Serbia), and Mr. Alan Cumming (Scotland), who wholeheartedly shared their knowledge, energy, and time in this endeavor.
The author made extensive use of the Internet site: the History of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals – scottishwomenhospitals.co.uk
Mr. Velibor Vidić, the editor, said: “…the author Slavica Popovic Filipovic, – in addition to a great effort and talent – has shown a great affection for her own people, but even more so to those others from abroad, to whom the Serbian people remain thankful and full of admiration. To her, as the author of this exceptional book, we all owe a gratitude for uncovering to us all the terrible, and at the same time, an enchanted and heartening truth about the terrible hardship, and humanity, which has brought us, and our descendants, on the path of truth and recovery, by returning us to the fundamental human values. This is definitely one of the books that will lead us, as individuals and as a nation, and to which we will always readily return to.”
Only six months after her death, the Serbian Government presented a Bronze Bust of Elsie Inglis to the Scottish Nation at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. The Bust has now been on display for some time in The National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.
It is a thought provoking piece and although I’ve seen it many times, it always has an impact on me. Standing at 66.00 cm and located in the main hall it is beautifully crafted and portrays Elsie deep in thought and contemplating her subject.
The bust was crafted by distinguished sculptor and architect Ivan Mestrovic whose works include “Victor” in Belgrade, “The Bowman and the Spearman” in Chicago and “The Well of Life” in Zagreb and his art has been compared to that of Michelangelo and Rodin . Today his other works are exhibited in renowned European and American museums and galleries including the Vatican.
In the photograph we can see Prince George of Serbia presenting the Bust to Robert Munro, the Secretary for Scotland.
Also in the photograph is Ivan Mestrovic ( left hand side)
The Glasgow City Archives in the Mitchell Library in Glasgow host a number of newspaper cuttings from the proceedings.