It was great to be able to go to the Mitchell Library in Glasgow and see the Scottish Women’s Hospitals material. I was looking for material on the New Zealand doctors. Alan Cumming did a wonderful job in getting relevant files fished out for me – so I was greeted by a trolley piled high with sturdy boxes.
The New Zealand doctors were Dr Agnes Bennett, Dr Mary Blair and Dr Jessie Scott.
Dr Jessie Scott, from Christchurch, who worked in Auckland before war broke out, was among those who were taken prisoner in Serbia in 1915. Dr Mary Blair, from Wellington, arrived in Salonika in late 1915 and shortly afterwards left with 800 refugees and set up a camp for them in Corsica. Dr Agnes Bennett who was born in Australia but had a GP practice in Wellington for about a decade before war broke out, was Commanding Officer of the America Unit – funded by money raised in America – which was attached to the Serbian Army. When the women first arrived and set up the tent hospital at Lake Ostrovo1916, they were near the battlefield – and Dr Bennett did a lot of amputations.
I want to thank Alan for his help, and the Mitchell Library staff who were very friendly and efficient.
I am doing a book on New Zealand women who actively worked in the war effort overseas – and the members of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service are a very important part of that story. I have a Winston Churchill Fellowship to help fund this July-August 2015 trip to Britain to look for material.
My new book on Ettie Rout’s World War One safe sex campaign is published by Penguin this September. My previous books include An Awfully Big Adventure, the story of New Zealand soldiers told chronologically in their own words from the 84 World War One Oral History Archive interviews I did with Nicholas Boyack in 1987-90, which hit the bestseller list when published by Penguin in 2013. My biography, Ettie: A Life of Ettie Rout was also published by Penguin and won a New Zealand Book Award in 1993.