A-Z of Personnel

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Ruby Maud Abbott

Date of Bith: 1891
Place of Birth: Kent, England

Born in Belvedere, Kent. Ruby was raised by her parents, James and Martha Abbott. In 1901 she was living with her mother in St Mary in the Castle, Sussex. And in 1911 she had moved to Kent.

In May of 1917 she joined the Scottish women’s Hospitals and headed to Salonika. Where she joined the Girton and Newnham unit as an orderly unit January 1918. The winters in Salonika were freezing and it was common for the nurses to wake up in their tents with their hair stuck to the pillows, a contrast to the summers. Perhaps the most challenging time at Salonika was in the summer of 1916. Before the war there was no malaria in Salonika, the marshy areas up north had few travelers during that time and the mosquitoes where confined to the that area. War meant vast amounts of movement and malaria became endemic. The hospital endured around 8 deaths per week, however most of the other hospitals in Salonika were reporting huge causalities. In August the fighting began as the Serbian and French began pushing the Bulgarians back. The work load for the hospital was just unbearable, with most of the staff dragging themselves from day to day. During her time in Salonika Ruth also witnessed and assisted in saving of lives in what was know as the great fire of Thessaloniki in August of 1917 when nearly a third of the city went up in flames.

Ruth continued to support the war effort on her return home working in Cornwalls Camborne Auxiliary Hospital, Tregenna. Also in 1918 she married Frank E Gilpin. Ruby Maud Abbott died in Salisbury , Wiltshire, United Kingdom in 1982.

Evelyn Abbott

Date of Bith: 1883
Place of Birth: Wales

Evelyn Margaret Abbott was born in 1883 at Grosmont, Monmouthshire, Wales. Her father Joseph was a Schoolmaster and as a family they tended to move around. In 1911 Evelyn was working as a Hospital nurse at Royal Free Hospital, General Hospital, Grays Inn Road, London. In 1916 Evelyn as a nurse joins the Scottish Women’s Hospitals at Royaumont abbey, near Paris, France. War had broken the tranquil and peaceful ambiance of the 13th century cistercian abbey. Royaumont Abbey north of Paris, France became during WW1 an all women hospital run by the Scottish Women’s Hospitals and by the end of the war had saved and aided thousands of lives. The women who served and devoted a slice of their life, helping mainly the French soldiers are remembered by plaques on the walls and in the grounds of the Abbey.
Without question their most testing time came in July 1916. For anyone connected with the Battle of the Somme these were horrendous, dangerous and difficult days. Evelyn left the unit in July 1916 and returned home. Evelyn died in London 1958.

Ailsa Lesley Abercrombie

Date of Bith: 1890
Place of Birth: New Jersey, America

According to US Census returns of 1900 and 1910 for NEWARK,NEW JERSEY,Ailsa was born in New York in 1890.She was the daughter of Scottish parents,James and Sarah.In her early years and as early as her third year,Ailsa had crossed the Atlantic from USA to UK and back.In 1911,Ailsa is listed on the Anchor Line “Caledonia”.Her parents were also on this voyage to NY,giving their address as New Jersey,USA. 1922 records show Ailsa departing Southampton on “Canopic” en route to visit an aunt in Newark,New Jersey. On this occasion,Ailsa’s home address was in Reigate,Surrey. Ailsa died in Surrey,on 3/9/1965,aged 75 years old.

Ailsa joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in November 1916 as an orderly, teaming up with the strong Girton and Newnham Unit at the under canvas hospital in Salonika. Unfortunately for Ailsa the story of the unit during this spell was a time of upheaval. Although their were times when the hospital was very much in demand, it was a quieter time and tensions were building in the unit. Personality’s were clashing, the position of the hospital was in question and the x-ray truck had still not arrived. Salonika its self had in the summer of 1917 went through a horrendous time when a fire burned for 2 days, even the hospital was a one point in danger of bursting into flames. Ailsa would have been very busy in the days after, as the hospital took in victims affected by the flames and smoke. In mid-October a flash flood nearly destroyed the hospital and Ailsa would have spent days cleaning up the mud and water damage. Ailsa left the service in December 1917.

Mary Alexander

Date of Bith: 1886
Place of Birth: Glasgow

Mary Alexander was among the first generation of Glasgow University’s women doctors. The Medical School was established in Queen Margaret College in 1890 and in 1894 Miss Marion Gilchrist graduated MB and CM, the first woman to graduate from Glasgow University. By the time Mary Alexander matriculated in Medicine in 1907 there were sixty women in the Faculty. It was still not a course for the faint-hearted and the women had to fight for an equal education.

Mary already had an MA. She was born in Glasgow on 21st November 1886. When she matriculated in the Arts faculty for the first time in October 1903, to study Latin and Mathematics, her father William, whose occupation she described as a blockmaker, was already deceased. She was sixteen. She gave her home address as the United Free Manse, Kilmallie, Corpach and in term time she was living at Queen Margaret Hall. Later, in 1909, she moved to 88 Hyndland Street.

Mary was an excellent student. In her second year, in 1905-1906 she gained a First Class certificate in Ordinary French. The following year she took third place (equal) in German. She graduated MA in 1906 and proceeded to Medicine. Each year, she featured in the prize-list, taking Second Class certificates in Anatomy, Chemistry and Surgery, First Class certificates in Medical Jurisprudence, Midwifery, the Practice of Medicine and Eye Diseases. She graduated MB ChB in 1910.

Mary Alexander was one of a number of courageous medical graduates who volunteered for war service. Edinburgh medical graduate Elsie Inglis was undaunted by the refusal of the British Government to find work for them, and, with the backing of the Scottish Federation of Women’s Suffrage Movements and the French Government, proceeded to set up the Scottish Women’s Hospitals, first in France and then in Serbia over the winter of 1914-1915. The hospitals were staffed by women. Mary Alexander served in Salonika. During initial difficulties with management, she and Honoria Keer and Barbara McGregor tendered their resignations in support of Glasgow graduate Annie McIlroy when she challenged the running of the tented hospital. The problem was solved, and Mary remained there as assistant surgeon.

After the war, Mary returned to Scotland and in 1925 was married to fellow Glasgow graduate Alexander Silver (MA, 1907). They went out to live and work in South India, and lived at the Church of Scotland Mission at Arkonan. Some time in later life she returned and the last address known to the University in 1975 was c/o Miller, 106 Comiston Road, Edinburgh.

Many thanks to the University of Glasgow for this information

Eva Alexander

Date of Bith: 1882
Place of Birth: London

Eva Ernestine Maria Alexander was born on 4 January 1882 in London. Her father Frederick John Alexander was born on 15 July 1847 in Edinburgh, Midlothian. Fredrick was an Iron Merchant. Her mother Minna Charlotte Augusta Achilles was born in October 1850 in London. She spent most of her early years living in and around London.

Eva joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in April of 1918. She served in the Girton and Newnham unit at Salonika before heading to Belgrade. Eva served as an orderly. She left the unit and Serbia in July 1919.
After the war she enjoyed travel and spent some time in Jamaica. Eva Ernestine Maria Alexander died on 19 January 1958 in Surbiton, Surrey, when she was 76 years old.

Annie j Allan

Date of Bith: 1888
Place of Birth: Airdrie

Within the archive of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow there is a photograph album relating to the career of nurse Annie Allan before and during the First World War. Annie was born in Airdrie in 1888 and trained at the Camelon Fever Hospital in Falkirk before moving to the Elder Cottage Hospital in Govan. Elder Cottage Hospital consisted of thirty beds in two wards named Florence Nightingale and Sophia Jex Blake. Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) represented the professionalisation and training of nurses and Sophia Jex Blake (1820-1910) was one of the first female doctors in the UK and had established in Edinburgh the first hospital in Scotland to be run by and for women. Perhaps it was the inspiration of these women that led nurse Annie Allan to join an all-women operation for her war service.

Annie served with the Girton and Newnham Unit of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in Serbia and Salonica. The Unit had initially been established in Troyes in France, but was selected to accompany the French Expeditionary Force to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Annie set sail from Liverpool in October 1915 bound for Salonika. On arrival at Salonika, the Unit was instructed to proceed to Geuvgueli, just across the border in Serbia where the French were forming a large hospital centre. An empty silk factory was given to the Unit and used for staff accommodation, the operating theatre, X-ray room and the pharmacy. Marqee-ward tents were erected for the patients – all French soldiers, many of them Senegalese

The Allied attempts at saving Serbia were, however, too late and the hospital had only been fully operational a short time before the Unit was commanded to retreat along with the Allied forces to Salonika. Here, the Unit re-established the hospital on a piece of swampy waste ground by the sea – the only place they could find in an area overflowing with refugees and retreating army

The summer in Macedonia in 1916 was very hot and brought with it the attendant problems of dysentery, flies and, worse of all, malaria. The nursing duties would have been very heavy indeed. Following her experiences in Salonica, Annie Allan became matron of Caldergrove Auxiliary Hospital, Hallside, Lanarkshire.

After the war she became Matron of Kirkcudbright Cottage Hospital, resigning her position in November 1933 on her marriage to Mr W.M. McCall of Cannee Farm, Kirkcudbright. It was at this stage that she gave her photograph album to her successor at Kircudbright Cottage Hospital, Miss Marion McNeill who subsequently donated it to the College.

We would very much like to know more about Annie J Allan so please get in contact email: library@rcpsg.ac.uk if you do have further details about her life.

Sarah Allan

Date of Bith: 1889
Place of Birth: Kelso

Sarah Dempster Allan
Sarah was born in 1889 in the village of Sprouston, Kelso. Her life over the next 102 years would take her far away from the Scottish Borders.
Between 1911-1915 Sarah was working as a nurse in the Royal Infirmary Glasgow. In May of 1915 she joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals and headed to Troyes in France. She joined the Girton and Newnham unit, so called after they had funded the equipment. The success of the first unit in France at Royaumont abbey had the French appealing for more units. Located at Chateau of Chanteloup near Troyes. It was a principal station for receiving the wounded men from the front. The hospital was very different from Royaumont in that it was mainly under canvas. Ideal for the journeys ahead. In October the unit was moved from Troyes to Salonika, Greece. From Salonika the unit moved to support the Serbs in Guevgheli, Macedonia. By the end of 1915 Serbia would be forced into exile and the nation in ruins. All the women knew how bravely Serbia had fought and many were moved to tears at the outcome. Sarah and the unit were forced to evacuate the hospital and retreat to Salonika, where she continued to work as a nurse until April 1916. In 1917 she was working as a nurse in Weymouth before moving back to Scotland in 1918. In 1922 she was back in the Scottish Borders living in Innerleithen. She enjoyed her travels and headed to India and America. Working in Buffalo, America, she put down roots working at the Children’s hospital. Sarah died in 1991.

Charlotte Almond

Date of Bith: 1892
Place of Birth: Musselburgh

Charlotte Katharine Jocelyn Almond was on on the 30th Sep 1892 at North Esk Lodge Musselburgh. Her father was Hely Hutchison Almond, headmaster of Loretto School ( which is still in existence). Charlotte served as an Orderly with the Scottish Women’s Hospital at Royaumont, France, between July 1918 and September 1918. Her father Hely Hutchinson Almond was Born in 1832 in Glasgow, the son of Reverend George Almond,he showed great academic promise at Glasgow College. He went on to Glasgow University and from there was elected to an Exhibition at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was a Snell Exhibitioner.
He was also an accomplished athlete and secured a place in the eight of the college. It was also here that he started playing rugby. His first appointment was at Loretto School in Musselburgh, Scotland, where he served as a mathematics master before in 1858 becoming a Master at Merchiston Castle School, where rugby had been introduced the year before. In the spring of 1862, Almond purchased Loretto School. Under his leadership the school became the leading rugby nursery in Scotland.
He was one of the umpires of the first international rugby match at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh in the 1871 Scotland versus England rugby union match.
Charlotte’s experiences and time spent as an orderly at Royaumont abbey certainly had an impact on her, as after living in Edzell in Angus and in Fife she moved to London and qualified in medicine, working at the Kings College Hospital as house-Physician in the Children’s Department. In 1923 she married Hugh Johnston but sadly died in 1925 in childbirth.

Charlotte Almond

Date of Bith: 1892
Place of Birth: Musselburgh

Charlotte Katharine Jocelyn Almond was on on the 30th Sep 1892 at North Esk Lodge Musselburgh. Her father was Hely Hutchison Almond, headmaster of Loretto School ( which is still in existence). Charlotte served as an Orderly with the Scottish Women’s Hospital at Royaumont, France, between July 1918 and September 1918. Her father Hely Hutchinson Almond was Born in 1832 in Glasgow, the son of Reverend George Almond,he showed great academic promise at Glasgow College. He went on to Glasgow University and from there was elected to an Exhibition at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was a Snell Exhibitioner.
He was also an accomplished athlete and secured a place in the eight of the college. It was also here that he started playing rugby. His first appointment was at Loretto School in Musselburgh, Scotland, where he served as a mathematics master before in 1858 becoming a Master at Merchiston Castle School, where rugby had been introduced the year before. In the spring of 1862, Almond purchased Loretto School. Under his leadership the school became the leading rugby nursery in Scotland.
He was one of the umpires of the first international rugby match at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh in the 1871 Scotland versus England rugby union match.
Charlotte’s experiences and time spent as an orderly at Royaumont abbey certainly had an impact on her, as after living in Edzell in Angus and in Fife she moved to London and qualified in medicine, working at the Kings College Hospital as house-Physician in the Children’s Department. In 1923 she married Hugh Johnston but sadly died in 1925 in childbirth.

Modesta Amour

Date of Bith: 1887
Place of Birth: Glasgow

Modesta Hannay Amour was born on 5 March 1887 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, to Annie McKellan, age 29, and James Hogg Amour, age 36. James was a Dairyman.

Modesta Trained as a nurse at Barnhill Workhouse Hospital, Glasgow.
Between 1912-1914 she worked as a nurse in Tunbridge Wells.
In 1914 she was working as a Private nurse in Edinburgh.
February 1915- February 1917 Modesta joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals and as a nurse worked at Royaumont Abbey outside Paris.
From 1917 -1919 Modesta was living/working in Devonport.
In 1920 she was working in Glasgow’s maternity hospital.
In 1922 she was back working in Edinburgh.
In the 30’s and 40’s Modesta travelled to Singapore, Japan and Canada.

Modesta died in Edinburgh in 1942

Catherine Anderson

Date of Bith: 26 dec 1881
Place of Birth: Ceylon

Catherine Emslie Anderson was born on 26th December 1881 at Maskiliya, Ceylon. Daughter of Tea Planter, James Anderson and his wife Isabella Craib who was sister to James Craib a colonial surgeon in Ceylon.

Catherine Anderson studied medicine at Aberdeen University, qualifying in 1904. Once qualified, she is listed in the Medical Directory as having taken a diploma at the Hospital of Tropical of Medicine, Liverpool in 1905. She is then listed in 1907 at the Coombe Lying in Hospital, Dublin, at the Sheffield Union Hospital and then took position of Junior House Surgeon at Ashton under Lyne Infirmary in 1909.

She left Ashton under Lyne Infirmary in 1911 and is listed as Medical Officer at Lady Havelock Hospital for Women and Children in Ceylon. In 1914 she is listed as the New Medical Superintendent at the Lady Havelock Hospital for Women and the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children at Colombo, Ceylon.

In 1915 Catherine left Ceylon to work for the Scottish Women’s Hospital for Foreign Service and service with Dr. Mary Blair at Salonika and Corsica.They had been sent to Serbia to help with the efforts of Dr Alice Hutchison at Valjevo, however by the time they reached Salonika, Serbia had been forced to retreat. The unit worked for a few weeks in Salonika tending the refugees, the condition were horrendous, men , women and children lay at the side of the roads, starving, exhausted and many with frostbite, the Serbian retreat had been particularly brutal. Permission was granted to evacuate the serbs to Ajaccio, Corsia Catherine worked there for approximately six months. She is on Aberdeen University’s Roll of Honour for Service.

She returned to Ceylon and continued as Medical Superintendent at the Lady Havelock and Ridgeway hospitals in Colombo, Ceylon and took her FRSC at Edinburgh in 1921.

She died at sea in January 1934. The Death Report states that she went ‘Missing’ at sea whilst a passenger on the SS Strathnaver en route for Ceylon from the UK.

Valerie Bowker BA (Hons).

Many thanks to Valerie Bowker

Annie May Anderson

Date of Bith: 1884
Place of Birth: Scotland

Annie May Malcolm Anderson

Annie was was in Scotland in 1884. Her father was a William Malcolm Anderson and her was Margaret Dudgeon. We know the family lived in the Edinburgh area.
Annie joined the Scottish Women’s Hospital in October 1917. She joined the Girton and Newnham unit and headed to Salonika where she worked as an orderly. The Girton and Newnham Unit, under the leadership of Dr L McIlroy, served with distinction in France, ?Serbia and Greece. The hospital at Salonika was attached to a division of the French army and was dispatched to Salonika in Greece when their French division was transferred there as part of a belated move by the allies to provide practical help to the beleaguered Serbs. The hospital (known as the Girton & Newnham Unit after the Cambridge University colleges which funded it) was set up in a disused silkworm factory in the border town of Gevgelia though it soon had to be relocated to the city of Salonika when the rapid Bulgarian advance threatened. Much of the work at Salonika was spent fighting Malaria, a huge killer made worse by the lack of suitable clothing supplied by the allied army’s. Malaria with its symptoms of fever, vomiting, diarrhea, aching limbs and deep depression if not death in extreme case. The Eastern campaign in Salonika was sometimes called ‘The Doctor’s War’ because it wasn’t the enemy that was the main problem. The winters were bitterly cold with frostbite a constant problem , there was always the dread fear of typhus and other epidemics. Two- thirds of Salonika were destroyed in August of 1917 with the SWH tents close to going up in flames. Annie most likely would have traveled north to Belgrade to work in hospital set up in the city in 1918.

Annie returned home in June 1918 . She died in 1938 and is buried in the family plot at the Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh.

Millicent Sylvia Armstrong

Date of Bith: 1888
Place of Birth: Sydney Australia

Millicent Sylvia Armstrong (1888-1973), playwright and farmer, was born on 1 May 1888 at Waverley, Sydney, fourth daughter of William Harvey Armstrong, a merchant from Ireland, and his Tasmanian-born wife Jeanie, née Williams. Millicent was educated at Shirley, Woollahra, matriculated in French and Latin in 1905, followed her sisters Ina Beatrice and Helen Daphne to the University of Sydney (B.A., 1910) and graduated with first-class honours in English. Helen had graduated with firsts in French, English and German in 1902 and was a librarian at the Public Library of New South Wales in 1911-21. Millicent’s interest in literature had been revealed when she wrote a story for Theatre magazine under the nom de plume, ‘Emily Brown’. She left Australia for London in August 1914 with the intention of finding a publisher for her first novel, but was almost immediately involved in war-work, probably in canteens.

From 1916 Millicent was attached as an orderly to a unit of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service and worked from March 1917 at the ancient Abbaye de Royaumont, Asnières-sur-Oise, France. She was sent to the advance hospital at Villers-Cotterets, Aisne, which was taken over by the French military and became Hôpital Auxiliaire d’Armées No.30. There she first experimented with drama. Written partly in English and partly in French, and solely as entertainment for the wounded, her pantomimes, melodramas and variety shows were performed by staff and some of the casualties, using makeshift props and costumes. In the face of the German advance in May 1918, the hospital was evacuated to Royaumont: Miss Armstrong was awarded the Croix de Guerre for her bravery in rescuing wounded soldiers while under fire.

Returning to Australia after the war, Millicent briefly owned and operated the Amber Tea Rooms at Goulburn. In 1921 she made an application under the Returned Soldiers Settlement Act and was granted title to 1028 acres (416 ha) with a capital value of over £2600 at Gunning on land previously owned by Ina’s husband Leo Watson of Wollogorang. Helen acquired an adjoining block. In producing vegetables, flowers, pigs and wool at Clear Hills, Millicent and Helen suffered from the same chronic indebtedness which characterized Australian closer-settlement schemes, despite the size of their holding and family financial support. During her early years in the country Millicent completed at least three one-act plays which were based on her experiences: Fire gained third place in the Sydney Daily Telegraph competition of 1923; Drought was awarded the 1923 Rupert Brooke prize of £25, was performed in London and won a prize in 1934 from the International One-Act Play Theatre; At Dusk appeared in 1937 in a collection of Australian one-act plays. Two other plays, Thomas and Penny Dreadful, both drawing-room dramas, were published with Drought in a selection of her work in 1958.

Tall, slim and possessing unfeigned modesty, Miss Armstrong once described her life as being ‘too much like that of a great many other people of [her] generation’. After Helen’s death in 1939, Millicent became a grazier at Kirkdale, Yarra; by 1953 she was living at Goulburn. She died in a local hospital on 18 November 1973 and was cremated with Anglican rites. Unmarried, she bequeathed Clear Hills to her nephew John Edward Lightfoot.

by Kate Blackmore

Jessie Craib Asher

Date of Bith: 1886
Place of Birth: Inverness

Daughter to John and Annie Asher.. Jessie became a Nurse and it looks like she worked in Aberdeen pre war. She joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in October 1918 and head to Salonika where she joined the Girton and Newnham unit. As the Serbs pushed for home and war was over, work at Salonika began to decrease. The unit now could join the other SWH in Serbia. And in the winter of 1918, they headed up to Belgrade. The unit finished up working as the Elise Inglis Memorial Hospital in Belgrade. Jessie served with the SWH between August 1918-November 1919. The hospital in Belgrade remained open until March 1920. Jessie who was living at Glenfruin ,50.Fairfild Road Inverness before the war, returned home and died in 1964 at the same address. Jessie never married.

Elizabeth Atkinson

Date of Bith: 1883
Place of Birth: Winterton, Lincolnshire

Lizzie as she was known before the war worked as a nurse in Doncaster. She joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in July 1915 as part of a reinforcement party and headed to Kragujevac in Serbia. The hospital was run by Elsie Inglis and was one of the largest hospitals working in Serbia in 1915. The work at the hospital at that time was very hard going and typhus in the spring of 1915 had taken thousands of lives and 3 of the SWH nurses. Elizabeth was a nurse and there was no shortage of work. By October Serbia was facing a sledgehammer. Austria, Hungary, Germany and Bulgaria were advancing with vigor. Serbia stood alone, out gunned, massively outnumbered and still in recovery from the typhus epidemic. Elizabeth was forced to leave the hospital and other member she choose to go on the Serbian Retreat. The retreat as witnessed by Lizzie and her unit was an endless procession of men, women and children, a beaten nation, attempting in the frozen depths of winter with very little or no food and poorly clothed to trek for weeks covering hundreds of miles over the Albanian and Montenegrin mountain. 100,000′s of thousands of Serbians poured like blood from the heart of the motherland, estimates that well over 150,000 died, killed or were lost along the way. She wrote “in many places the mountain track was barley a foot wide along the edge of the precipices, and we saw both men and animal fall over.” Lizzie was awarded the Serbian Cross of Mercy. A very formidable lady.

Christina Auld

Date of Bith: 1883
Place of Birth: Denny, Falkirk

Born in 1883 in Denny, Stirlingshire, Christina, we think, was adopted by Isabella Auld, a 60 year old farmer. July 1915 sees Christina joining the Scottish Women’s Hospitals as a nurse and heading to Valjevo in Serbia.After six months of hard work helping to save the lives of typhus stricken Serbia Christina was force to leave, but what an epic journey she had trying to return home.

Without question the most intense and enthralling story line from Christina’s time nursing in Serbia was joining the great Serbian retreat in November of 1915. Had the story of the Serbian retreat been purely one of adventure and super human exploits perhaps today it would be better known. Sadly today the retreat is rarely brought to our attention. In October 1915 Serbia was invaded not just by Austria and Hungary but the Germans and Bulgarians who vowed to crush Serbs, finally breaking her back. The Serbs were fractured and exhausted after months of fighting alone. Typhus epidemics and starvation had taken its toll and ammunition was down to the last. The allied command gave the orders for the Serbs to retreat to the safety of the waters of the Adriatic sea where help would be on hand to feed, re-arm and support the Serbs back into their motherland. Over the next two months soldiers, government officials , Doctors, the movers and shakers from all walks of Serbian society made the painful decision to leave their homeland. Petrified of the Austrians and in particular the Bulgarians, panic gushed into minds of the civilian population. Many fled, terrified as to what would become of them with no one to save them. And they were right to fear the worst. For many of the civilians that remained, brutality and cruelty was dished out in many of Serbia’s towns and villages. Christina, with many of her unit from Valjevo, had a simple choice – face either becoming a POW or joining the retreat. Christina, in November 1915, with a few personal belongs fused into the huge human river of despair. Under the stewardship of William Smith of Aberdeen (a clerk with the SWH) twenty five of the women headed for home. The journey would take them several hundreds of miles down through Serbia and on to the plains of Kosovo, over the mountain passes of Albania and Montenegro and down to San Giovanni de Medua on the Adriatic sea. The river gorges, deep valleys and mountain precipices would become the graves to tens of thousands of Serb men women and children as the nation funneled its way into the freezing temperatures and winds that butchered them hour after hour. Brokenhearted, destitute and a people absent of hope, the weeks of dragging themselves in the snow took its toll, dreams shattered and bodies of skin and bone, some gave up, mothers and babies starved or froze to death, the old folk perished, twenty three thousand Serbian boys never made it to the end, a catastrophe for Serbia. Christina and the other nurses were unable to help in any way, it was all they could do just to survive, to stay alive and make it home. Seven weeks after the first steps they were on a ship and heading back home. They had made it but they left their hearts with the people they came to help.

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