Plans to Commemorate the life of Dr Elsie Inglis in Edinburgh this coming November are progressing well and are at an advanced stage.
November 2017 will mark the passing of 100 years since Elsie Inglis died.
I am delighted to be on the parliaments committee and thrilled that the Scottish Government have included the work of Dr Elsie Inglis as part of their overall WW1 commemorations.
Plans are afoot to invite a number of guest speakers who will hold talks/lectures and presentations on the life and works of Dr Elsie Inglis. These will take place during the Parliaments key events which begin at the Dean Cemetery on Sunday the 26th of November.
On Wednesday the 29th of November there will be a large service at St Giles Cathedral followed by a City Chambers Reception.
With the relatives visit to Serbia taking place in September, the huge plans the Serbs have to commemorate her in her adopted land and, with a number of large and small exhibitions taking place all over the world, it’s encouraging to see Elsie being elevated to her rightful place in history.
Part of what intrigues me about the story of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals is the individuals themselves. Of course researching their experiences, travels and service during WW1 are at the heart of my interest. But what is fascinating, is how diverse and unconventional many of these women were. And although while many of the women endured an arduous struggle to obtain recognition in their careers, homes and from within politics, they all shared the desire, with various degrees to improve the lot of women. For some tho, the journies, both pre and post war were very different. Alma Dollings life and death were both sensational and tragic.
Alma Victoria Radcliffe Clarke was born in Kamloops, British Columbia Canada in 1896 to Walter and Elizabeth Clarke. Her father was a printer, publisher and owner of a weekly newspaper called the Kamloops Standers. Alma was a spirited child who loved the limelight. She walked in her mothers footsteps in her love of music. She was a gifted performer and was completely at ease playing the piano and violin. She was educated in Toronto and Victoria, British Columbia. In her teens she studied music at Toronto’s college of Music where she played solo for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Alma was charismatic and extremely attractive. The boys loved her as she flirted in low cut dresses, drank cocktails and smoked. At 19 she married the love of her life, Ulsterman Caledon Dolling, they traveled to England where he enlisted to fight in the great war. In 1916 there was tragic news, Caledon had been killed at Battle of the Somme.
Left Heartbroken, Alma joined the French Red Cross in 1916 as a driver. She was wounded twice and was awarded Croix de Guerre. In 1917 she joined the Scottish Womens Hospitals as on orderly. Alma served initially at Royaumont Abbey. The orderlies role within the hospital was not an easy one. Long hours, heavy lifting and stomach churning tasks often day after day. The hauling of stretchers up and down the hundreds of stairs at the abbey; the dragging the bags of dirty, blood soaked linen along corridors; the washing down the floors and operating tables; the stench of the chloroform; the screams coming from the men of the Poilu. In their blue bonnets they worked the wards, stores, kitchens and the laundry.