Tucked among the fruit trees that grow on the slopes of the surrounding hillsides and over looked by Kosmaj mountain is Mladenovac. The town is situated around 30 miles from Belgrade. Home to around 25,000 inhabitants, Mladenovac is an industrial hub with many different factories.
Dr Elsie Inglis, who arrived in Serbia in May of 1915 instructed that a field hospital be located at Mladenovac . The typhus epidemic that had battered Serbia in February and had to some degree diminished was by the end of April and May back with a vengeance. Hundreds of cases were being reported at Mladenovac and Elsie dispatched a unit under the command of Dr Beatrice MacGregor. With Mladenovac being the hub of Transport for the Serbian army, Elsie and here units understood the importance of their work and containing any infectious diseases. The hospital was under canvas and located on the hillside just outside the town. By July there were no more cases of typhus or wounded soldiers, so the unit opened a dispensary for the women and children. Such was the need for this initiative that in the first two weeks 700 visits were made. On the 8th of October, Belgrade fell to the Germans and Austrians. On the 12th the unit evacuated to Kragujevac, they were again in the thick of it, working with nearly 400 cases of wounded men. By the end of October , and with the Bulgarians also declaring war on Serbia, the unit was pushed back again. Many of the Mladenovac unit went on the Serbian retreat including Dr Beatrice Macgregor. Sadly Caroline Toughill, a nurse from Edinburgh perished in the mountains along the thousands of Serbian men,women and children.
Mladenovac will be perhaps the key destination when we visit with the relatives. The monument and fountain in the town was built in 1915 by the Serbian soldiers. Its dedicated to the work of Elsie Inglis and the SWH. Elsie attended the opening ceremony and was left in awe of the people who knew her at that time as the “mother of the nation” Elsie wrote home “these beloved Serbians-you cannot help but love them”. A ceremony has been held at Mladenovac for decades and next being the centenary of her death will be a large scale and very moving occasion. The 15th of September 2017 will be a very special event.
Clearly the translation or the journalist has been a tad economical with my details!!!