A-Z of Personnel

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Isobel Dorothy Banks

Date of Bith: 1893
Place of Birth: Dunnon

Isobel Dorothy Banks was born 9/8/1893 at Elm Bank,Dunoon. Her parents were Carnwath born Physician,John Banks and Glasgow born mother,Catherine Harvey Menzies.
1901 Census of Dunoon show Isobel,her parents and three siblings living in 10 bed roomed house at Redhurst,Royal Crescent.One of her elder brothers was a Medical Student.
1911 Census has the family still at Redhurst,Dunoon.Isobel,aged 17.

Isobel joined the Scottish Women’s Hospital’s in the summer of 1917 and went out to Royaumont Abbey near Paris. She served as a Chauffeur( ambulance driver). The drivers at Royuamont were in a league of their own. They had to be over the age of 24 and tended to come from well off family’s. Many owned their own cars. They had their own sleeping and living quarters and at the Abbey they were stationed in the stables. Casualties were brought in from the railway station at Creil, which was a drive of 12 miles. They were clothed in rubber boots, goatskin jackets( to help keep them warm) and steel hats as this could be dangerous work, often taking place at night and under bombardment. Isobel left the Abbey in November 1917.

Jane Corbett Barker

Date of Bith: 1875
Place of Birth: Aberdeen

Jane Corbett Barker was daughter to Henry and Frances Barker. Henry’s occupation was Classics master at Chanonry School, Old Aberdeen 1851-3, then returned to business in Glasgow. In 1862 became HM & Partner with his father-in-law. He left in 1879 and became Head of English Dept, Glasgow High School, till 1895 when he retired to Banchory. Jane, it seems follows her brother( Francis James) to London. Francis was a Doctor and was living in Grosvenor Square. Jane joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in December 1917. She was employed as sanitary inspector of what was know as the American unit. Jane joined the field hospital unit of some 200 tents, situated near Lake Ostrovo, Macedonia. The Unit was under the command of the 2nd Serbian Army. It was called The America Unit as the money to fund it came from America and except for a few dressing stations, it was the Allied hospital nearest the front. The mainstay of Jane’s work would have been ensure proper sanitation, clean drinking water and disease was kept from the hospitals. A difficult task as these hospitals were often under attack from aircraft and artillery fire. Flies, wasps and earwigs were a constant nuisance and out breaks of malaria common place. On 30 September 1918 the unit received news of the armistice with Bulgaria and on the morning of 23 October the unit started for northern Serbia with a convoy of nine vehicles on a 311 kilometre trek. All the staff made the trip and the unit was set up in an abandoned army barracks in Vranja, Serbia. The scenes at Vranje were awful, the entire city was one huge unattended hospital, disease, soldiers requiring urgent attention and homeless women and children often dying with starvation and frostbite. Jane was greatly admired by the other members of the unit. In February 1919 Jane returned home as the hospital was due to close. After the war she became Inspector of Midwives, Corporation of Glasgow. And retired 1935. Jane Corbett Barker died in Glasgow in 1948.

Catherine Mary Barr

Date of Bith: 1872
Place of Birth: Gourock.

Catherine Mary Barr was born in Gourock, Renfewshire. She lived at the family home of 7 Albert Road, Gourock. Her father Robert Barr was the local chemist. Catherine had an astonishing war with the Scottish Womens Hospital in that she served as a nurse from December 1914-October 1918. Very few in the organisation would serve in this way. Catherine, in December 1914, headed to Serbia via Southampton and Salonika. At Salonika Catherine’s orders were to en-train for Kragujevac a military key point near Belgrade. The unit arrived on the 6th of January and was geared for a 100 beds but immediately had to admit 250 patients and soon after 650. Dr Eleanor Soltau was the chief medical officer and the unit worked around the clock trying to save as many lives as possible. The magnitude of the disaster was everywhere, thousands of men and civilians were scattered in buildings all over the town. Kragujevac was really one large hospitals. Broken limbs, gangrene, frostbite and open infected wounds were just some of the conditions endured by the men. Many lay dying with no medical help. Unfortunately things were set to get worse with the outbreak of typhus, Eleanor wired to HQ for more nurses,” dire need for more fever nurses” unable to use the word typhus, the Serbs not wanting her enemis to know the fragile condition it was in. Elsie Inglis got the message and dispatched 10 more nurses. Catherine went from Kragujievac to help at a new hospital at Mladenovac under the command of Dr Beatrice McGregor. The hospital was doing a quite fantastic job supporting the Serbs. Then in October German and Austrian troops attacked Serbia with such huge force that by the 12th of October the unit had no choice but to evacuate the hospital as the town was on the main railway line. They fled south to Kraguievac and regrouped opening an emergency dressing station, 100’s of Serbian causalities poured in. With the Bulgarians joining the assault on Serbia they were forced to move down to Kraljevo and open another dressing station. Finally in early November all hope was gone and the SWH were forced to choose between retreat to the Adriatic Sea or remain and fall into enemy hands. On the 5th of November Dr McGregor and her nurses joined “The Great Serbian Retreat” The retreat as witnessed by Catherine and her band of women 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. Hundreds 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. History has few parallels to this mass exodus.
Dr McGregor, Catherine and the others made it back to the UK on the 23rd of December. They too had suffered as Caroline Toughill was killed on the mountains of the Ibar valley.

Catherine after a short time at home joined the SWH again and proceeded to Corsica, where she nursed the Serbian refugees who had poured out of Serbia. Many of these poor souls were completely destitute. Catherine worked at the hospital until October 1916. Catherine in 1917 joined the American unit working in Ostrovo, Vranje before moving up to Belgrade.

Catherine was awarded the Serbian Samaritan Cross, she clearly must have loved the people a great deal. Catherine died in April 1954 in Tower drive Gourock.

Katie Baugham

Date of Bith: 1880
Place of Birth: Swansea, Wales

Katie Emma Baugham

Born in Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales in 1880. Katie was raised by her father Joseph and mother Emma. She enrolled as a nurse at Worcester General Infirmary between 1901 – 1905. In 1905 she moved to Hackney before becoming a senior nurse in Chelsea, where she worked until 1911. In 1915 she joined a Red Cross hospital . Katie joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in 1916. Katie served in the London unit and headed to the Russian front. The unit went out in August 1916 and formed two field hospital units. These units consisted of Four doctors, two Matrons, Twenty trained nurses, Three Administrators, Two cooks, Two Laundry Supervisors, Two Medical Students, one Sanitary Inspector and Thirteen Orderlies. Katie returned in the summer of 1917. On a personal level Katie had been slightly wounded when she was hit by shrapnel during one of the retreats from the front line.
In 1918 she was nursing a friend in Sweden. She returned to London in the same year to work as a nurse. From 1920-1940 she continued to work as a nurse in London. Katie Emma Baugham died in London in 1953.

Minnie Ruth Baughan

Date of Bith: 1868
Place of Birth: Wandsworth, Surrey

Minnie grew up in the family home in Wandsworth, her father was John Baughan and mother was Ruth. Minnie entered the theatre of war in May 1915 joining the Scottish Women’s Hospitals as Dispenser, a highly important job given the pressure the hospital unit worked under. The organisation had gained agreement to set up a new 250-bed tented hospital at Troyes, funded by the Cambridge women’s colleges of Girton and Newnham. In October the unit proceeded to Salonika under the command of the French Expeditionary Force.
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. Minnie remained with the unit until 1919, she would have been involved in the push to reclaim Serbia and the many battles that were fought along the way. Finally ending up in Belgrade and the end of the war.
Minnie was decorated by the French and Serbian people for a remarkable Four years at war.

Gertude Beckett

Date of Bith: 1874
Place of Birth: New Ferry Cheshire

Gertrude Evelyn Middleton Beckett was born in Cheshire in 1874, her father Fredk E Beckett was a merchant. In 1911 we find Gertude working as a nurse at Toxteth Park Workhouse. In August she joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals as a nurse and headed to Royaumont Abbey outside Paris. The hospital was situated near the front line and nursed 10,861 patients, many with serious injuries. The fact that the death rate among the mainly French servicemen was 1.82% is a testimony to the skill, endless compassion and boundless energy shown by the women. Gertude would have been exposed to much of the awful sights of of war including The Battles the Somme. Trains arrived at Creil from the Somme in one long stream, then the ambulances took them down to Royaumont. Their wounds were terrible..many men wounded dangerously, in two ,three, four and five places. Their work was at times unforgiving, working around the clock, a sea of men all in agony waiting to be seen, the stench of blood and chloroform. And of course the sight of men with wounds so bad no amount of treatment could help. These women had to at times battle against impossible odds. Nurse Beckett spent 18 months working at the Abbey and returned home in February 1917.

Mary Josephine Bedford

Date of Bith: 1861
Place of Birth: London

Josephine Bedford arrived in Brisbane in 1891 with her longtime friend and companion Dr Lilian Cooper, with whom she shared accommodation during their student days in England. She helped Lilian establish herself as Queensland’s first female doctor while pursuing her own interest in improving the welfare of the state’s women and children. As the city’s population rapidly grew, Josephine noticed that the inner-suburbs, with their unpaved and unsewered streets, were unsafe for children to play. This realisation, along with the help of the local Reverend, led to the creation of the Crèche and Kindergarten Association (C & K) in 1907. By 1911, four centres were operating in Brisbane and a college for kindergarten teachers had been established. On an extended trip overseas, Josephine studied the concept of ‘supervised play’ and returned to Brisbane in 1918 to help open two supervised playgrounds (in Paddington and Spring Hill).

Miss Bedford was a committee member of the Queensland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty, first provisional secretary of the National Council of Women in 1906 as well as a member of the Queensland Women’s Electoral League. Another of her interests was the Women’s Auxiliary of the Hospital for Sick Children.

Dr Lilian Cooper died in 1947, leaving all her assets to Josephine. To commemorate the work of Queensland’s first female medical practitioner and her lifelong companion, Josephine Bedford donated their historic home, “Old St Mary’s”, at Kangaroo Point to the Sisters of Charity, on the proviso that it be used to build a hospice for the sick and dying. She was awarded the fifth class of the Order of St Sava by the King of Serbia.

Clarissa Bedwell

Date of Bith: 1876
Place of Birth: Watford

Clarissa Bedwell
1876–1956
BIRTH 7 SEP 1876 • Watford, Hertfordshire, , England
DEATH 10 MAR 1956 • 5 Sunnyside Kirbymoorside Ryedale, Yorkshire North Riding, England

Born to Mary and Charles Bedwell. Clarissa spent her childhood living in Watford and later in Kent. In 1901 she was employed as a nurse at Dundee Royal Infirmary. In December 1914 Nurse Bedwell joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals. Clarissa worked at Royaumont Abbey 30 miles outside Paris. From January 1915 to March 1919 the Abbey was turned into a voluntary hospital, Hôpital Auxiliaire 301, operated by Scottish Women’s Hospitals(SWH), under the direction of the French Red Cross. On arrival the staff found that the buildings were in a deplorable condition. They were dirty; there was a shortage of practically every amenity that they would need to run an efficient unit. There were no lifts; water had to be carried to where it was needed. By dint of much hard work the hospital was eventually given it certificate by the Service de Sante of the French Red Cross. Their work was unremitting, the winters bitter and I was left with unstinting admiration for this very gallant band of doctors, nurses, orderlies ambulance drivers, cooks, who gave so much to their patients throughout the war. The hospital was situated near the front line and nursed 10,861 patients, many with serious injuries. The fact that the death rate among the mainly French servicemen was 1.82% is a testimony to the skill, endless compassion and boundless energy shown by the women. Clarissa left Royaumont in September of 1915. Clarissa Bedwell died on 10 March 1956 in Sunnyside, Yorkshire, when she was 79 years old.

Annie, Louisa Begg

Date of Bith: 1874
Place of Birth: Leeds

Born in Leeds, her father Ralph was a merchant from Dundee. Annie traveled several times in her life to Australia but she also joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals on two separate occasions. She joined as an orderly under the command of Dr Blair and headed to Serbia. Unfortunately in late 1915 Serbia had fallen so the unit were unable to head up to the hospital at Valjevo. Instead they opened a station for the refugees coming out of Serbia at Salonika. The unit in December 1915 headed to Corsica however Annie for whatever the reason elected to return home.
Again in July 1916 she signed on to serve in the SWH, this time closer to home at Royaumont abbey near Paris. During July of that year, Royaumont had coped with large amounts of casualties, streams of soldiers poured in, particularly from the battle of the Somme. By the time Annie got to the abbey in late July the fighting was receding and she left the hospital in October. She, it seems wanted to be in thick of it and missed out due to no lack of effort on her behalf. Annie died in Wimbledon in 1973.

Jane Aitken Bell

Date of Bith: 1882
Place of Birth: Holytown, Lanarkshire

Daughter of Duncan Bell(coal miner) and Annie Bell. Jeanie went to the local school in Newhouse but pre war she was working as health visitor of Thornton Hospital in Fife, before volunteering for Serbia. In July 1915 she joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals and bravely sailed for Serbia. As a nurse she headed for Valjevo. Time ran out for both Nurse Bell and Serbia as in October Serbia was facing a sledgehammer. Austria, Hungary, Germany and Bulgaria were advancing with vigor. Serbia stood alone, outgunned, massively outnumbered and still in recovery from the typhus epidemic. Jeanie was forced to leave the hospital and in November 1915 she joined the Serbia Retreat. Jeanie wrote an article in the Hamilton Advertiser ” We climbed up high mountains and got lost in the snow. We slept in huts, barns and stables, we huddled together just to keep warm. Torrents of rain drenched us over and over again. The last two weeks were the worst they baffled all description. We were so weak and faint we could hardly drag ourselves along.” A party of 28 women were escorted out of the mountains by William Smith, a clerk with the SWH. After a 5 week epic journey from Serbia to the Adriatic sea the women finally got home at the end of December via Italy and France.

For Jeanie after the dreadful experiences on the Serbia retreat where nearly 200,000 men, women and children died or were lost in the snows. She found happiness.
‘Motherwell Times’ – Friday 17th March, 1916.
“Miss Jean Aitken Bell, one of the nurses who came through the hardships experienced by the British units in Serbia, was married yesterday to Mr John Carmichael, pharmacist, Leslie, Fife. Miss Bell, who is a native of Newhouse, Holytown, was engaged as health visitor of Thornton Hospital before volunteering for Serbia. She is the first of the plucky band of nurses to be married. The wedding took place in Glasgow.”

Jean Aitken Carmichael, other name, Bell died 1957 at Cathcart, Glasgow, aged 74yrs.

Agnes Bennett

Date of Bith: 1872
Place of Birth: Sidney, Australia

Agnes Elizabeth Lloyd Bennett (24 June 1872-27 November 1960) was a New Zealand doctor, a Chief Medical Officer of a World War I medical unit and later was awarded an O.B.E. for her services in improving the health of women and children.

She was born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 24 June 1872, the sixth child of W. C. Bennett, and his first wife Agnes Amelia, ne Hays. Bennett attended Sydney Girls High School, as well as Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Dulwich Girls’ High School and Abbotsleigh. She won a scholarship in 1890 and studied science at the University of Sydney (B.Sc., 1894); she was secretary of and a night-school teacher for the Women’s Association (later University Women’s Settlement).

Initially unable to find a job as a medical practitioner, Bennett worked for a time as a teacher and governess, then left Australia in 1895 to study at the College of Medicine for Women, University of Edinburgh (M.B., Ch.M., 1899). She returned to Sydney in 1901 and set up in private practice in Darlinghurst Road but although she gave free medical advice she was forced to give up her practice because of the then common prejudices against female doctors. She briefly worked at Callan Park, the hospital for the Insane before leaving in 1905 to take over the practice of a woman doctor in Wellington, New Zealand. This time the practice thrived. She was chief medical officer at St Helen’s maternity hospital, and honorary physician to the children’s ward of Wellington Hospital from 1910. In 1911 she completed her M.D. at Edinburgh.

In 1915 Agnes Bennett became the first female commissioned officer in the British Army, when as a captain she worked as a medical officer in war hospitals in Cairo. When the work came to an end she sailed for England, uncertain what to do next. Almost immediately she met up with Elsie Inglis in London who asked her to work with the SWH. On the 2nd August 1916, the America Unit, in the command of Dr Bennett, reached Southampton preparatory to embarking on the hospital ship Dunluce Castle for Salonika. The ship arrived in Salonika on the 13th August and on the 17th of that month Dr Bennett travelled by car to visit the proposed camp site.

Originally intended as a base hospital at Salonika, the unit’s status was changed. As the only hospital for the use of the defeated Third Serbian Army, it would now be situated near the front, acting more or less as a casualty clearing station. Finally on the 7th September 1916 the first vehicles of her thirty-nine car convoy (Mrs Harley’s Unit included), left Salonika on the road to Ostrovo Lake. By the 11th September, Dr Bennett was able to record of the Ostrovo Unit. “The hospital is gradually getting into being-progress slow, partly on account of labour.” By the 28th September she as wring: “We have admitted 204 patients up to today; ten of the staff are ill which means 14 off work…”

While Chief Medical Office of the Ostrovo Unit, Dr Bennett was concerned with the difficulties the unit faced being so far from the front. Far too many men were losing their lives through the delay in getting them down to her hospital.

There was also the problem of malaria. Although, Ostrovo was up in the hills and the malaria threat was not as bad as in Salonika, it still claimed lives and would ultimately end her term as CMO when she fell victim to the disease as well. Gradually as the Serbian fighting line pushed the enemy back, the hospital work eased. In late October she wrote: “Our 400th patient admitted today.” By winter conditions became more severe. Fighting died down and the roads became impassable. The hospital was nearly isolated. Cases of scurvy were brought in occasionally, for food was short in the front line. In December a site was chosen for the outpost hospital at Dobraveni and the personnel sent off.

By the new year Dr Bennett was plagued by internal problems and worry over the outpost at Dobraveni. By late winter German air raids became more frequent and the outpost was moved in March with the help of 100 German prisoners. With summer came the threat of malaria again. Dr Bennett succumbed to the disease and was forced to resign because of ill health. She was replaced by another Australian Mary De Garis.

Dr Bennet became the first president of the Wellington branch of the International Federation of University Women in 1923, and represented New Zealand at its world conference at Cracow, Poland, in 1936. She had visited Australia often since 1905, and in 1938-39 was medical officer at the hospital at Burketown, North Queensland. She returned to Wellington and in 1939 helped to form the Women’s War Service Auxiliary.

Between 1940 and 1942 she worked in English hospitals and, on returning to New Zealand, lectured to the women’s services on venereal disease and birth control. Dr Bennett was appointed O.B.E. in 1948; she died in Wellington on 27 November 1960 and was cremated with Presbyterian rites. She contributed largely to the improvement of maternal and infant medical care in New Zealand, and through example, argument and organization, did much to advance women’s status.

Many thanks to Debbie Robson for writing this biography.

Elizabeth Bertram

Date of Bith: 1874
Place of Birth: Hawick

Elizabeth Bertram b.4/1/1874 at Wilton,Hawick Roxburghshire.Daughter of English born Oil Extractor,William Bertram and Hawick born mother Euphemia Turnbull.In 1881,the family were living at 7,Damside,Wilton but,by 1891, the family were residing at 2 Carnarvon Street,Hawick.In this Census return,we learn that Elizabeth,aged 17, is a Pupil Teacher.

In August 1915 Elizabeth joined the Scottish Women s Hospitals and 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 with her unit headed down to Kruevac, a three day journey of over 100 miles in appalling conditions. Old men and women, young children and babies all caught in frozen wasteland. No shelter or food and the shells being dropped on them from above. At Kruevac the women were faced with a choice remain and become a POW or leave by joining the Serbian retreat. Elizabeth joined the retreat ” Crowds, of people, soldiers, oxen,guns,pack ponies, mules all trying to form a line as it were, to ascend a height of 7000ft. To add to the difficulty it was snowing hard. The 1st day we walked on until dark. The ponies and oxen slipped about, and many fell down exhausted. I cannot relate some of the sights, they were too awful” Its estimated that Tens of thousands of men, women and children died in the weeks of travel during the retreat. Certainly a monumental and sad story of ww1.

After returning home in February via Italy, Elizabeth was soon back in action again working with the Scottish women’s Hospital at Ajaccio, Corsica. The unit at Corsica began in December 1915 as a result of Serbian refugees pouring into Salonika as Serbia was completely overtaking by invading forces. Elizabeth and her unit were responsible for the welfare and recovery of mainly children during that time. The hospital at Ajaccio was based at the Villa Miot and the grounds were also required for tents to house the sick. Elizabeth worked at Ajaccio until April 1919, making her one of the longest serving nurses in the SWH.

Mary Florence Bignold

Date of Bith: 1883
Place of Birth: Rochester, Kent

Dr Mary Florence Bignold

Although born in Rochester in 1883, her upbringing was in at the family home in Wales where she was raised by her father William and mother Mary Bignold. In 1907 she was in Edinburgh studying medicine at the medical college for women, a college established by Dr Elise Inglis. She went on to qualify as a Doctor and in April 1915 she joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals and departed to Serbia. Mary met her new colleagues including 3 other Doctors for the first time on Cardiff docks where they were regaled to the song of “Long way to Tipperary” and boarded the SS Ceramic and headed for Salonika(Greece) where by train they would travel to Valjevo in Serbia. On board with her were Chief Medical Officer Dr Alice Hutchinson, 25 nurses, a sanitary inspector, matron, clerk, 2 cooks, four orderlies and two handymen ( the only males of the unit). The voyage took a detour and docked at Malta for around 3 weeks at the request of the Home Office. Soldiers mainly from Australia and New Zealand were pouring in from Gallipoli many with serious wounds. The unit began working immediately at the Hospital of the Knights of St John, however they were ordered by the SWH to move on to Serbia and keep on programme.
Valjevo was a small town, 80 miles south of Belgrade. Lying in a sleepy green valley Mary would have felt at home, however only a few months earlier Valjevo had looked very different. The big guns boomed day and night, men fell in their thousands, civilian’s were rounded up and often massacred and the dreaded Typhus raged through Serbia, uncontrollable and without mercy. The mortality rate in Valjevo was 70% and as a result they lost a huge number of Doctor’s and nurses.
By the time Alice reached Valjevo things were improving however there was much to be done, Valjevo had been on the front line and with the summer heat and all the rotten flesh from man and animal, the flies swarmed in their millions bringing diseases.
The hospital was under canvas, the 40 tents pitched on the hillside over looked the town and by and large up until August there were few serious cases. Their was still plenty to do, many wounds had been untended and cases scurvy and malnutrition required urgent attention. However by mid August the big guns were back. This time it was the Germans, Austrians, Hungarians and Bulgarians, and Serbia stood alone encircled by 500,000 fighting men. Also making an unwelcome comeback was Typhus and sadly nurse Sutherland succumbed to the deadly disease. Mary left Serbia in September 1915 and only just in time as by October the entire nation was thrown into chaos.
Dr Mary Bignods war was not over and in October 1916 she joined the RAMC and sailed to Malta where she worked as a surgeon. After a spell in 1919 working at Southampton’s university’s war hospital she moved on and was Medical Officer for child health for Brighton and Hove, later she later retired to Henfield in Sussex where she died of a stroke in 1966.

Ysobel Birkbeck

Date of Bith: 1890
Place of Birth: Norfolk

Ysobel Birkbeck (married name Hunter), 1890-1973

Birkbeck was the youngest daughter of Henry Birkbeck of Westacre, in Norfolk, and enjoyed a country house upbringing with governesses and hunting. She was keen on painting from an early age, but was otherwise a tomboy, and frequently fell out with her father, who believed women should be decorative. She particularly loved the family estate of Loch Hourn, in the Scottish highlands, and was given an old keeper’s cottage there, six miles by boat from the loch-head and road. She was already starting to make a home there, driving up from London for the summer, when war broke out. She was a nurse for some time in the London Hospital, but this work was cut short by serious illness. In 1916 she joined the SWH as Driving Instructor – perhaps this was through Mrs Haverfield, who moved in the same social circles, and was also a keen horsewoman. She was involved in two retreats, and returned to England in 1917, intending to return to Russia once the roads were passable once more. Her time with the SWH is published as Forgotten Heroines (see this site) a,d an edited transcript of her diary is kept at the Imperial War Museum.
In the meantime Authority had decreed that the driving was too hard for women. Birkbeck therefore joined FANY and served in France. She was awarded the Russian medals of St Stanislaus and St George (one of these for her courage in changing a tyre under fire) and, in France, the Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star. The citation recalls ‘her service as driver with the Allied Armies during more than two year, in Russia, Romania and then in France. She had always shown energy, courage and coolness, particularly during the operations round Chateau Thierry, Noyon and Verdun, and had particularly distinguished herself on 23 and 24 October 1918, in continuing to transport wounded under violent bombardment.
The war completely changed Birkbeck’s attitude to blood sports; she never hunted again, and disapproved of her brother’s shooting at Loch Hourn. After the war, she lived alone for some time, first in a wood near Raynham, Norfolk. It may have been during this period that she founded the Westacre Village Industry Company which made dolls’ house furniture.
She met her future husband, Neil Hunter, in Tangiers. He was Resident Educational Officer in the Sudan. They were married in 1924, and Birkbeck’s coolness and courage were once again called for during the Sudan mutiny. Her Sudan diaries and paintings are held by the University of Norfolk. They had one son, Neil, born in 1925. However the climate did not agree with her, and she reluctantly returned to Britain. She had a flat in London, but spent time in Loch Hourn; she returned from there to London as war broke out, joined the Mechanised Transport Corps, and drove a light rescue car in Lambeth during the Blitz.
After her husband’s death in 1957, Birkbeck moved from London to a flat in Douglas Crescent, Edinburgh, where she spent the winter months. She migrated to her cottage at Loch Hourn as soon as the spring sun crept over the great shoulder of Ladhr Behinn and onto her side of the loch, and did not leave until the mountain hid it again. She knew every deer, fox, badger and otter on ‘her patch’, and illustrated a book of fungi. She was a local ‘character’ with many stories to her name: my favourite was where she found an otter with a broken leg, and insisted – in the absence of a vet – on the local doctor coming to set it. Her heavy clinker dinghy was called, simply, Mine.
Ysobel Birkbeck died in Edinburgh, in 1973.

Many thanks to Marsali Taylor, who put this biography together.

Jane Towers Birnie

Date of Bith: 1877
Place of Birth: Edinburgh

Jane was raised in Edinburgh, her father David was a brass finisher. in 1901 Jane was a nurse employed at Leith Hospital. By 1911 Jane had moved to Dorset and was living in Clacton on Sea, she was working as a Hospital nurse.
Jane joined the Scottish Womens Hospitals as a nurse on the first of July 1915.

April 1915 the typhus outbreak that had been under control in Serbia suddenly started to show signs of relapse. The town of Mladenovac was considered at risk and the SWH were asked to step in and provide a hospital in case of a new epidemic. Dr Elsie Inglis wasted no time in dispatching a hospital unit to Mladenovac. By July 1915 Dr Beatrice McGregor with her new recruits arrived at the hospital and took over as chief medical officer.
During the early days Beatrice and the unit ran a 300 bed hospital and with things being fairly quiet she opened a dispensary for the women and children which became very popular.
Then in October German and Austrian troops attacked Serbia with such huge force that by the 12th of October the unit had no choice but to evacuate the hospital as the town was on the main railway line. They fled south to Kraguievac and regrouped opening an emergency dressing station, 100′s of Serbian causalities poured in. With the Bulgarians joining the assault on Serbia they were forced to move down to Kraljevo and open another dressing station. Finally in early November all hope was gone and the SWH were forced to choose between retreat to the Adriatic Sea or remain and fall into enemy hands. On the 5th of November Mary and a band of others joined “The Great Serbian Retreat”
The retreat as witnessed by Jane 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 200,000 died, killed or were lost along the way. History has few parallels to this mass exodus.
Dr McGregor and her nurses made it back to the uk on the 23rd of December they to had suffered when Caroline Toughill was killed on the mountains of the Ibar valley. Jane with a party of around 20 other SWH members after 7 weeks walking through the snow and mountains finally made to the Adriatic sea, where they were taken by ship to Brindisi in Italy before making their way home.

Margaret Aitken Bissett

Date of Bith: 1892
Place of Birth: Ayrshire

Margaret Bissett was born about 1892 in Cronberry to colliery blacksmith Robert Bissett of Closeburn and his wife Annie Aitken of Auchinleck.
She was a staff nurse at the Scottish National Red Cross Hospital at Bellahouston, Glasgow.

Margaret joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals as a nurse and served the unit in Corsica. The unit at Corsica was formed in December 1915 as a result of Serbian refugees pouring into Salonika, Serbia had been completely overrun by invading forces. Margaret with her unit were responsible for the welfare and recovery of mainly children during that time. The hospital at Ajaccio was based at the Villa Miot and the grounds were also required for tents to house the sick. When the unit arrived in Corsica it was a very different picture. The hospital had opened on Christmas day 1915 and instantly got to work as over three hundred refugees had traveled with them. Within days another ship with over 500 refugees arrived. The hospital closed n 1919 and did a magnificent job of caring for the thousands of Serb civilians. Many of whom were children. Margaret nursed at the hospital between 10-May-17 and 20-Nov-17.

After the war she married Arthur Hayward of London a sub-editor in 1920. She died in Buckinghamshire, aged 90 in 1983.

Agnes Forbes Blackadder

Date of Bith: 1875
Place of Birth: Dundee

Agnes Forbes Blackadder, well known in St Andrews and especially its University where she became the first ever female to graduate.She was born on 4th December 1875 in Dundee, Scotland. Her father, Robert, was an architect and civil engineer who worked in Forfar.

She graduated first from the University of St. Andrews and received the degree of Master of Arts. She was the first female graduate from St-Andrews University. Between 1893-1896 she studied chemistry, latin, botany and zoology Agnes Forbes Blackadder was one of the most distinguished of a cohort of early medical graduates from Queen Margaret College for Women, University of Glasgow. She was a gifted medical student. In addition to taking first prize in Practical Pathology in 1896, she had a string of First Class Certificates in Materia Medica, Surgery, Midwifery, Ophthalmology and Insanity. .In 1901 she married Dr Thomas Savill but was widowed in 1910. Agnes would join the SWH in May 1915 and continued to work at Royaumont Hospital outside Paris till 1918. At the hospital she was in charge of the x-ray and electro therapy department. Agnes also installed the X-ray equipment at Villers-Cotterets a hospital close to Royuamont and run by the SWH. She spent hours not only working at the hospital but also teaching.Extremely hard working and contributed to the saving of many lives with her studies into gas gangrene. As a result of over working Agnes became quite ill and was sent home. After the war Agnes, who had a brilliant mind, threw herself at everything from music to the writing of books. She continued working right up into her old age , passing away in London in 1964.

Mary Alice Blair

Date of Bith: 1880
Place of Birth: New Zealand

Dr. MARY ALICE BLAIR
CMO Corsica Unit, SWH.
Born 27 February 1880, in Dunedin (New Zealand)
Dr. Mary Alice Blair was born on 27 February in 1880, to an old Scottish family in New Zealand. Her father William Newsham Blair was working as a senior public works engineer, from 1863-1890, in Dunedin (South Island). Mary was attending the Wellington Girls’ College before she entered the Canterbury College in 1898. She started her studies at the recently established Victoria College in Wellington, but completed it at the Auckland University. At that time medical studies were not available for women in New Zealand, so Miss Blair went to London to study at the London School of Medicine for Women. After completing her studies in 1907, she acquired the degrees of B. S. and M. B. She was working over 20 years at the Royal Free Hospital in London, where she was an anesthetics assistant, a hospital surgeon, and a senior assistant at the Pediatrics. Besides the private practice, first in Kensington, then in Westminster, she used to give lectures at the Civil Service Commission, as its member.
During the Great War, she joined the Scottish Women’s Hospital for Foreign Service. The SWH Unit, under Dr. Mary Blair, in October 1915, sailed for Salonika with the intention of reinforcing Alice Hutchinson’s unit at Valjevo. The SWH Committee withdrew its offer of a unit to Italy (which had been accepted), because the need of Serbia was believed to be much greater. (Leah Leneman, In the Service of Life). After the Great Retreat of the Serbian army and people many refugees came to Salonika. Because of the Great Retreat Dr. Blair and her stuff had to change the plan and they stayed in Salonika, where the hordes of refugees were pouring out of Serbia. Dr. Blair together with the British and the Serbian Red Cross travelled to some Macedonian towns, and saw lots of people in dire straits. With the help of the French government, the Serbian Relief Fund, the Scottish Women’s Hospitals, and the Serbian Red Cross, the Committee was organized to look after a large number of Serbian refugees. While the SRF organized the social help, the French government provided lodgings and transportation, SWH accepted the organisation of a hospital and medical care. The first group of refugees, under the command of Dr. Blair, left Salonika by ship heading to Corsica. There were some three hundred refugees on the first ship, and soon another ship followed with five hundred people.
In December 1915, a group of weak, exhausted, and destitute Serbian civilian refugees arrived at Corsica with two members of SRF (Sir Edward Boyle and his mother Lady Boyle), and two members of SWH. According to Dr. Mary Philips, they were Dr. Mary Blair and Sister Walker. During the sea crossing one baby was born and he was named Abda, after the ship. Another baby was born on the day the party arrived, and was christened Napoleon, since Ajaccio is well-known for being the birth place of Napoleon Bonaparte. Dr. Blair’s unit landed in Corsica on the Christmas Morning in 1915. “It was the dearest Christmas that any of us have ever spent”, wrote Dr. Blair. The SWH, known as the Corsica Unit, was located in Ajaccio, while the dispensaries were working in other small places, where the Serbian refugees lived. The hospital in Ajaccio was located in Villa Miot, which had a lovely view of the sea. At first the team nursed typhoid
fever, pneumonia, appendicitis and maternity cases in one ward under extremely difficult conditions.
In Ajaccio, SWH, under Dr. Mary Blair CMO, established separate wards for men, women, and children, and later a rehabilitation ward. Since among 6,000 refugees there were a lot of families with children, and some of them were born on the island of Corsica, the children’s department was in a great need. Dr. Blair with her staff formed a mothers’ department, and even made a celebration for all the children born on the island of Corsica. Besides the medical care, Dr. Blair with her stuff, helped the refugees to overcome their suffering. The Serbian colony later opened various workshops, schools, a theatre, and a temporary Orthodox Church in Bastia.
Dr. Elsie Inglis visited Corsica in April, and was very pleased with the hospital work. Dr. Mary Phillips and Dr. Edith Hollway joined the hospital, and were very helpful as they had already had the experience working in Serbia. They spoke some Serbian, and the patients were very pleased when somebody greeted them in their native language.
Dr. Mary Blair was the CMO of the Corsica Unit of the SWH, from October 1915 until 15 September 1916. After she left, Dr. Mary Philips was appointed the CMO. The Hospital Administrator, Miss Culbard regretted Dr. Blair’s departure: “She is an exceptionally good organizer, sees so far ahead, is so straight and such a perfect little lady.” (Leah Leneman, In the Service of Life). Dr. Blair was decorated with a number of medals for her courage and humanity. Among them was the SWH badge and the Serbian decoration of the Order of Saint Sava, IV degree.

Slavica Popović Filipović

Mabel Nellie Blake

Date of Bith: 1893
Place of Birth: Greenock

Mabel’s parents were Arthur Blake, married to Helen Paton, 1886. Greenock, Renfrewshire.
Her mother affectionally know as Nellie, ie Helen, was born Helen Grant Paton, 11/November/1861. High Church, Paisley. to parents Alan Paton, and Henrietta Angus Turner. Mabel qualified as a Doctor in Glasgow in 1917 and in 1918 she joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals American Unit and headed to Salonika, up into Northern Greece and on into Serbia as the unit followed the Serbs back into their homeland. The euphoria the unit were feeling as they left Lake Ostrovo in Greece to support the Serbs on their homeward journey quickly turned to terror when they arrive in Vranje in Serbia. The patients at Vranje were in there thousands and with the temperatures dropping everyone was suffering from the bitter cold. Blood stained floors and dying men lay huddled together, wounds were open and untreated, maggots and lice crawled on their uniforms and hair. The hospital was the old army barracks, ideal for the unit but firstly they had to scrub the place from floor to ceiling. Mabel and the other Doctors got to work instantly attending the worst cases. One of the awful sights at Vranje were the tragic circumstances the Serbian solider found on his return, many had lost their wife’s and family’s who had either died or been killed by the Bulgarians. Some of the men found their family’s had been hung and homes raised to the ground. Nearly everywhere there was weeping, suffering and mental torture. Many of the soldiers took a gun to themselves, after three hard years of fighting there way home they found all their loved ones gone. Mabel worked at the hospital right up until May 1919. She was a fearless lady, skillful and devoted to her work. On her return home she worked at Glasgow’s Belvidere Fever Hospital. Dr Mabel Nellie Blake was awarded the Serbia Red Cross 1st degree for her work in 1918-1919. The medical School in Vranje remembers these women’s great deeds today by a plague and a new building was names after Dr Emslie Hutton.

Elsie Edith Bowerman

Date of Bith: 1889
Place of Birth: Tunbridge wells, Kent

Miss Elsie Edith Bowerman, 22, was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent on 18 December 1889, the daughter of William Bowerman and his wife Edith Martha Barber. Political Union (WSPU) which campaigned vigorously for the extension of the franchise.

Although Edith had moved to Thakeham, Sussex following her marriage to Alfred Chibnall, by 1912 she and Elsie were living together at ‘Thorncliffe’ 145 London Road, St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex.

On 10 April they boarded the Titanic at Southampton as first class passengers (ticket number 113505, cabin E-33) for a trip to America and Canada.The two women were rescued in lifeboat 6. After reaching America they did not abandon their travel plans but journeyed across the country, up to a ranch in British Columbia, to the Klondyke and Alaska.
On the 30th of August 1916 she joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals as an orderly. Joining Elsie Inglis London unit, donations where sent from London and that’s why the name. On August 31st 1916 the unit sailed from Liverpool aboard ” The Huntspill” a small boat described as being extremely unhygienic condition with a very drunken crew. The ship followed a zig zag course well into the Arctic Circle. At that time there was evidence of mines in the North Sea and The Channel. The greatest danger was from the highly mobile submarines . Germany had already sunk 51 merchant ships in July and early August. There was an attempt on board to study a language which could prove useful. They studied Russian and Serbian , Russian was the primary choice. 16 automobiles and a great deal of equipment were included in the cargo. The nurses at this time remained in ignorance of the ships final destination . After 9 days at sea the ship arrived at Archangel. Here grim news awaited them. The joint Serbian and Russian army fighting in Romania had lost 100 men. The Russian unit, mainly went out to support the Serbs who were fighting on that front, but assisted and administered medical where and when it was required. They were split into two field hospitals and Elsie worked principally in Odessa, Bubbul Mic, Medgidia, Galatz and Reni. The hospitals were during that period always on the move due to the intense fighting that took place in the region. The hospitals worked not only close to the front line but also between the lines. Witnessing two huge offensives that resulted in the loss of many lives, three retreats that cost the lives of many, many civilians and broke the hearts of many of the women. They also observed and at times were hindered by the uprisings and revolutions in Russia during 1917.Elsie returned home on the 1st of March 1917.

After the Armistice in 1918, Elsie studied law, in which she gained an MA, and was admitted to the Bar in 1924. She practised until 1938 on the South Eastern Circuit. Elsie suffered a stroke in 1972 and died at home on 18 October 1973, aged 83. She was buried in the family grave with her parents in Hastings cemetery.
I

Bessie Dora Bowhill

Date of Bith: 1869
Place of Birth: Bunkle, Berwickshire

Bessie was born in Berwickshire in 1869, Her farther Tomas had a large arable farm by 1891 they had moved to Harcarse Hill Farm, Swinton. During that time Bessie trained as a nurse at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. She took the post of night superintendent at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary but in May 1900, during the Boer War, she enlisted in Princess Christian’s Army Nursing Service Reserve and was quickly posted to the 13th Stationary Hospital outside Durban in South Africa. She served for the duration of the Boer War. On her return she worked in hospitals at Falkirk, Dundee and again at Aberdeen before being appointed matron of Perth Royal Infirmary during 1909.
In May 1915 she she joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals as Matron and headed for Serbia. On arrival at Salonika the unit were sent up to Kraguievac a city 100 miles south of Belgrade. Although the fighting at that time was minimal there was still a massive amount of work to be done, Serbia was well short of medical facilities. Bessie went out to Serbia as part of a support unit and joined her Chief Medical Officer Dr Eleanor Soltau at Kraguievac in central Serbia. Kraguievac like elsewhere in Serbia at that time was under the grip of huge typhus epidemic. The SWH itself had lost 3 members and tens of thousands of men, women and children had succumbed to this awful terror. Bessie and her skills as Matron would be tested and she was put to work straight away. However, during mid-august the big guns were back. This time it was the Germans, Austrians, Hungarians and Bulgarians, and Serbia stood alone encircled by 500,000 fighting men. By October 1915 Belgrade fell. The women had two choices stay put and become a prisoner of war or head off with Serbian soldiers on what was known as the ‘Serbian Retreat’ – a long and dangerous trail. Bessie with many others choose not to leave their patients and remain in Serbia for as long as possible. Bessie wrote on her return in the Haddingtonshire Courier 25 Feb 1916;“I went out last April to Kragoujevata, where we worked in hospitals until bombarded. The whole of the Serbian Military Staff and all British people were sent to Krushevatz. At that time I was away on a field ambulance attending to the wounded on the line, where a small party worked at a dressing station on the line at Markovatz. We were bombarded out of there, and at night had to leave, and walk for 16 miles, part of the time marching with the Serbian Army. We got a train in the morning about 8 o’clock; got into a truck and joined many of the refugees from Krushevatz, and others. Having travelled a short distance, which occupied the whole afternoon, we were picked up by our own ambulance, and went to another ambulance station. Had only been there two nights when we had to leave for the same reason – that the Army were coming down on us, and consequently we had to retreat in front of it. From there we travelled in bullock waggons for several days, stopping at all sorts of strange abodes, sleeping anywhere, and taking our food out of doors or anywhere we could get it. We passed through Krushevatz where all the other refugees were, and where we found arrangements were being made for British people to try and get home. After going further on we returned in about two days in a bullock cart, four sisters and myself, who wanted to get home. We joined our own staff again at Krushevatz and stayed there several days until the bombardment took place. We were away about a fortnight altogether. All that week we heard guns very near, and on 5th November learned that the Germans were only a few miles off. By this time the town was practically evacuated. On 6th November the bombardment took place. The Serbians blew up the ammunition on the railway, which gave the inhabitants of the town a great shock. They also blew up an iron bridge over the river, and with the terrific explosion just about finished everything we had, wrecking the living room of the hospital. Fortunately only two night sisters were in it, and managed to escape with but a few scratches from broken glass, etc. Aeroplanes dropped bombs over the town, and shells were fired on it. We stayed in hospital and busied ourselves carrying patients downstairs in readiness to depart. At night the Prussian Guards simply walked into the town without any fuss whatever, and took it. Dr Inglis and her staff were told to prepare beds for 50 Germans , and next morning we received orders to leave the hospital to them. Only half-an-hour was gien to us to get out, and all we were allowed to take was our beds and bedding. From there we finally went to head-quarters, and slept there for one night. We were turned out again from there and eventually reached the Serbian Military Hospital, in which there were over 900 patients. I should have said that when we were turned out of hospital we were given a small house by the Germans, where we carried all our beds and bedding, got it cleaned out, and into nice order, when in marched a lot of German soldiers and ordered us out once more into the street. Being unable to obtain any food for several days, we simply lived on what few stores we had with us, getting a few hard biscuits from the Germans – large square biscuits after the manner of dog biscuits at home. From there we left to come home on the 28th December, staring our homeward journey with a guard, in a motor-waggon, having to proceed by road on account of the bridge at Staloch being blown up. At Staloch, we entrained and went to Belgrade, where we slept one night in the station waiting-room. Again unable to get food, we made tea in the station, and went on next morning, and were taken to Semendria, where a very thorough search was made – all letters, papers, etc., being taken from us, but which were returned. The next day it was necessary to go to the Police Court, and we were again searched, but were well treated by the Hungarians. From there we were taken to Kevevana, and detained in quarantine for a few days, which was not resented at all. Met by Guards, we were marched in line and taken over at the entrance to the little town by the Head of the Police, where he gave us a room in his own house. A little straw was purchased, and we lay on the floor, twenty-one in all, in one room, but, we found the officials quite civil to us. Getting our faces washed in the morning was quite a tragic performance, starting about 6.30 and finishing about 11 a.m. It was understood we were to go straight home, but we were detained till the 6th January, and travelled with the Guards, halting at Budapest on the road for a day. We continued our journey to Bruck, the Border town of Austria and Hungary, and from thence to Vienna, after which we were allowed to go about without a guard to a distance of one kilometer beyond the town, and got bed accommodation in a hotel there – the first bed we had slept in since 28th December. At an interview with the American Consulate, we related all about the British people and prisoners we had seen on the way. Following two nights stay in Vienna, the march was continued to Waidhofen, where, on our arrival, the whole of the townspeople seemed to be out to meet us, and we were rather roughly handled by some. We were detained by the police, being provided with food, fire, light, etc., and, after being there for four weeks, were told on 6th February to leave Waidhofen at four o’clock that (Sunday) afternoon. I might mention that at Berne, where we halted, we got a fine reception, and we were taken to one of the best hospitals. It was the first place where we could get anything since 1st October, as we had lost all our belongings except in what we stood. We got a splendid send-off from there by all the English people in the place. Ultimately we arrived at London on Saturday afternoon, 12th February.”

Bessie died at York in September 1930. Bessie was awarded the Serbian Cross of Mercy .

Madeleine Browe

Date of Bith: 1863
Place of Birth: Ireland

Madeleine Eugenie Theodora Browne was born about 1863, in Balla, Mayo, Ireland, her father, James, was 53 and her mother, Emily, was 45. She had seven brothers and five sisters. Prior to ww1 she was living at Cranley Lodge Guildford. During ww1 Madeleine offered her services as a VAD at Military Hospital Canterbury 10.2.17 – 21.3.17 Chatham Military Hospital, Fort Pitt 7.5.17 – 14.6.18. In September she joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals and traveled to Sallanches, Haute-Savoie, France. Sallanches was a small village at the foot of Mont Blanc. The climate was dry but cold and not over hot in the summer, ideal for treatment. The hospital opened with 60 beds but that figure increase to over 150 in times of need. Madeleine worked at the Elsie Inglis Hospital for the Serbs.The hospitals was based at the used Grand hotel Michollin and operated from Feb1918-March 1919. Primarily to help Serbian boys suffering from Tuberculosis a huge problem in Serbia at the end of the war. She left the unit in May 1919. She died on November 1, 1937, in Brentford, Middlesex, at the age of 74.

Elsie Brown

Date of Bith: 1892
Place of Birth: Lancashire

Elsie Catherine Brown
Born in 1892 in Barrow-In-Furness, Lancashire, Her father George, was a ships surveyor
Joined the SWH in Jan 1917 as an orderly, she had been training to be a teacher.
Elsie joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in January 1917 and served until February 1918. At that time she was living at 37 Victoria Avenue, Whitley Bay. She joined the American unit. The name “American unit” was given due to large amount of donations that poured in from America. The plan was for Elsie to travel out to Salonika and then onto Lake Ostrovo. The field hospital at Lake Ostrovo( Northern Greece) was very close to the fighting in the mountains of Macedonia. However, according to her notes in her file it seems she was in Salonika for a year. It looks like she never joined the unit intended but worked at the SWH in Salonika. A huge hospital, one and a quarter miles long and had over 500 beds. The centre gained its name as it was supported and funded by the subscriptions from that city. A vast hospital with operating rooms and an X-ray room, a dental department, massage and mecano- therapy department, a pharmacy and a bacteriological laboratory were put in place. The hospital of course has a vast amount of storerooms, tents and huts for accommodation and workshops. There was even a small farm yard, effective when food was short or expensive. By 1918 the Serbs were in the north pushing for home so the hospital was mainly supporting the French and although the hospital itself was named after its sponsors, the unit was know as the Girton and Newnham unit, so called after the college at Girton and Newnham funded the unit that not only served in Greece but also in France over a four year period.

Helen Brown

Date of Bith: 1872
Place of Birth: Malta

Helen Walker Brown was born on July 9, 1872, in Malta. Her father, James, was a schoolmaster. By 1881 the family had moved to Edinburgh. In 1901 Helen was working as a nurse in Edinburgh. In 1911 she was employed as a nurse but had moved to Dorset. Helen joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in 1916.
On August the 30th 1916 she joined the London unit as a Nurse. The unit sailed from Liverpool aboard ” The Huntspill” a small boat described as being extremely unhygienic condition with a very drunken crew. The ship followed a zig zag course well into the Arctic Circle. At that time there was evidence of mines in the North Sea and The Channel. The greatest danger was from the highly mobile submarines . Germany had already sunk 51 merchant ships in July and early August. There was an attempt on board to study a language which could prove useful. They studied Russian and Serbian , Russian was the primary choice. 16 automobiles and a great deal of equipment were included in the cargo. After 9 days at sea the ship arrived at Archangel. Here grim news awaited them. The joint Serbian and Russian army fighting in Romania had lost many men. The London unit, mainly went out to support the Serbs who were fighting on that front, but assisted and administered medical where and when it was required. They were split into two field hospitals. The hospitals were during that period always on the move due to the intense fighting that took place in the region. The hospitals worked not only close to the front line but also between the lines. Witnessing two huge offensives that resulted in the loss of many lives, three retreats that cost the lives of many, many civilians and broke the hearts of many of the women. They also observed and at times were hindered by the uprisings and revolutions in Russia during 1917.

Helen Walker Brown died on 30 September 1954 when she was 82 years old.

Gladys Lieba Buckley

Date of Bith: 1891
Place of Birth: Northampton

From the British Medical journal 1956.

Dr. G. LIEBA BUCKLEY died at her home at Bournemouth on July 2 after a long illness. She was 65 years of age. Born on April 2, 1891, the daughter of the late Dr. T. W. Buckley, of Thrapston, Northamptonshire, who was a greatly respected general practitioner, Gladys Lieba Buckley decided to take up medicine at the early age of 9. From St. Swithun’s School, Winchester, she entered Girton College, Cambridge, taking Part I of the Natural Sciences Tripos in 1913 and Part II in the following year. She then went on to the London (Royal Free Hospital) School of Medicine for Women to receive her clinical training. Before qualifying M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. in 1922 she spent some time in France with the Scottish Women’s Hospital Unit at Royaumont during the first world war. She obtained the London degrees of M.B., B.S. in 1923, and held the appointments of resident surgeon at the Royal Sea-Bathing Hospital, Margate, and assistant medical officer and radiologist at the Ransom Sanatorium, Mansfield, before settling at Bournemouth in 1926. She decided on a career in radiology and took the D.M.R.E. of Cambridge in 1927. She acquired a large radiological practice in Bournemouth, succeeding the late Dr. Florence Storey, who died in 1932. At the time of her death Dr. Buckley was consultant radiologist to the Royal Victoria and West Hants Hospital, Bournemouth, the Lymington and District Hospital, and the Christchurch Hospital. During the second world war she joined the R.A.M.C. and was employed in Haifa, Palestine, for two years. She continued at work in Bournemouth until 1953. A member of the British Medical Association for 32 years, she acted as one of the honorary secretaries of the Section of Radiology and Electrotherapeutics when the Association held its Annual Meeting at Bournemouth in 1934. She was also a member of the Radiologists Group Committee from 1950 to 1952. K. M. H. writes: Dr. Buckley was a woman of marked ability and many interests. She travelled as widely as the exigencies of her profession would allow, and maintained a keen interest in music and sport, especially cricket. Her devotion to duty was the mainspring of her life, and during her last year, when illness kept her from active work, she spent her failing strength in literary work in connexion with her chosen specialty and in keeping in touch, both personally and by correspondence, with the large circle of friends who will now sincerely mourn her loss.

Maud Eleanor Bullock

Date of Bith: 1870
Place of Birth: New Wandsworth, Surrey

The daughter of Rev James George Bullock and Maria Ray, Maud was another of these women that lived life to the full. By the 1900’s she was working as a Senior Nursing Sister at Chesterfield Hospital Children’s Medical Ward. She spent many a year working in Chesterfield. In 1912 she headed to the Balkans to nurse, working with Red Cross in the field of battle. Maud joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals as a Nurse. Elsie Inglis, just a day after reaching Newcastle, passed away. Her dying wish was to make sure the Serbs had their hospital and transport. Only fitting then that the London unit that Elsie had been in charge of in Russia in 1917 was renamed “The Elsie Inglis unit”. On the 19th of February 1918 the new unit was rolled out in front of the King and Queen at Buckingham palace, the King expressed his admiration for Elsie and he wished the unit a safe journey. The unit consisted of twenty five personnel and a transport section with its twenty five cars and thirty two personnel. Maud joined the unit at the start and in April the work began supporting the Serb troops in Macedonian, a demanding time with plenty of casualties and the unit suffering from two bouts of malaria. The camp was dubbed with the name “Dead horse camp” on account of the camp being surrounded by partially buried horses. The stench, heat and millions of flies must have been suffocating. The work load was heavy during that summer with malaria effecting the soldiers and staff alike. The drivers had the arduous task of driving on seriously dangerous tracks, up and down mountain passes night and day with shells shattering in their wake. Equally challenging was the task of keeping up with Serbs as they roared forward, every man desperate to be reunited with loved ones, to kiss the land they had been exiled from nearly three years earlier. Maud left the unit in March 1919 as the war drew to an end. The unit in the course of the year had been in Salonika, Macedonian, Sarajevo and finally up to Belgrade , Serbia. In the 1920’s Maud continued her work with Red Cross and worked and traveled all over Europe. Latter in life she moved and lived for many years in Jerusalem, from about 1932, till her death in 1945. She was buried at Jerusalem Protestant Cemetery. Also known as: Mount Zion Protestant Cemetery.

Marian Theresa Bullock

Date of Bith: 1877
Place of Birth: London

Mrs Marian Theresa Bullock was born Marian Theresa Pool. Her father Edward Pool was a cattle merchant from Middlesex, London. Marian graduated as a Doctor in 1904 studying at Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Royal Free Hospital in London. In 1905 she married William Bullock and two years later they had a daughter Ruby. In March 1918 Marian joined the SWH as a Doctor and traveled to Sallanches, Haute-Savoie, France. Sallanches was a small village at the foot of Mont Blanc. The climate was dry but cold and not over hot in the summer, ideal for treatment. The hospital opened with 60 beds but that figure increase to over 150 in times of need. Marion worked at the Elsie Inglis Hospital for the Serbs.The hospitals was based at the used “Grand hotel Michollin” and operated from Feb1918-March 1919. Primarily to help Serbian boys suffering from Tuberculosis a huge problem in Serbia at the end of the war. Marion left the hospital in January 1919. The CMO for the Sallanches unit was Dr Matilda MacPhail and Marian was her assistant, Dr MacPhail said of Marion that she ” is a charming colleague and i enjoy my work with her-she is so steady and helpful in every way”. Marian was not everyone’s favourite but its fair to say the hospital did have many problems with heating and water supply. Marian was awarded the British war medal, the victory medal and the French Red Cross medal. Sadly for Marian in 1929 she was widowed. She continued working in and around London. In 1956 she died in Harrow.

Kathleen Burke

Date of Bith: 1887
Place of Birth: London

BURKE, KATHLEEN, Colonel, C. B. E. (Mrs. Frederick Forest Peabody), daughter of Thomas Francis and Georgina (Connolly) Burke, was born in London, England, and educated at the University of Oxford and in Paris. During the period of the World War she achieved a record attained by few only of the women whose lives were consecrated to work for the Allies. Her service was extended and diversified, for at different times she was with the British, Italian, Serbian, and American Armies. At the beginning of the War she was sent to Belgium as member of a British Refugee Commission, and worked there during August and September, 1914, until the fall of Antwerp. She escaped from Ostend two days before the arrival of the Germans, and then, proceeding to Serbia, was appointed by the French Government its only woman representative at the front. In May, 1915, she joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals, and, as organizing secretary, visited all the scenes of their activities. She was the first woman at Vimy Ridge with the Canadian troops, and there received the gift of a German flag, captured by a Canadian. She was the only woman permitted to enter the British front lines, and was the first woman to go into Verdun. She remained at Verdun during the great siege, in the summer of 1916, and suffered a wound in the arm. Later in 1916, she came to America to plead the cause of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals. Her manner of speaking was direct and forceful, and her audiences were held spellbound by her gift for narration, as she recounted anecdotes of the shocking conditions which she had seen in all the war-ridden lands. In answer to her appeal she received approximately one million five hundred thousand dollars for her cause. In 1917, when the United States entered the War, she joined the American Red Cross, and made a speaking tour of the country in behalf of its campaign for funds. In 1918 she returned to France, was with the British Army at Ypres, Cambrai, Douai and Lille, and was gassed at Valenciennes. In bitterest terms Miss Burke denounces the Germans for their atrocities committed at the end as well as in the beginning of the war. During their evacuation of Douai they had filled a barracks with three thousand old women and children “for safety,” and then gassed them, in order to delay the British, who stopped to nurse these feeble and innocent victims of the Hun. Miss Burke spent the last day of the war with the American troops at Verdun, whither she went on November 9, 1918. She returned to America after the armistice to continue her work for the Scottish Women’s Hospitals at their offices in New York. Large sums of money have been administered by her, but her work has been entirely on a voluntary basis, as she has accepted no salary for herself. Miss Burke is fond of outdoor sports, golf and fishing, and is an expert horsewoman. She is the author of The White Road to Verdun (1916) and Little Heroes of France, 1914-1918 (1920). Although she is of British birth, America claims her by adoption. She has been awarded the freedom of the cities of Flint, Michigan, and Fresno, California, and in October, 1918, was named Honorary Colonel of the 138th Field Artillery, United States Army. Also she has been elected a member of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders and Helpers of America, Local No. 6, San Francisco, and has the right of speech in all the Labor Temples of the country. She is a member of the National Chapter, Daughters of the Empire of Canada, and is an Officer de l’Instruction Publique of France. She is a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, a Knight of St. Sava of Serbia, and has been awarded the British Service Medal, the British Victory Medal, the [p.204] French Red Cross Medal, the Order of Misericorde of Serbia, the Serbian Cross of Charity, the Russian Cross of St. George, and the Greek War Cross. On April 5, 1920, she was married to Frederick Forest Peabody of Santa Barbara, California.

from C.Fielding:
Kathleen married Girard Van Barkaloo Hale in 1920. He was a soldier in France where she must have met him, and later, he became the Consul General to Monaco. He was also an artist. It would appear that they lived on a ranch in California and that Kathleen died three years after him.

Elizabeth Butler

Date of Bith: 1878
Place of Birth: Uphall, Linlithgowshire

Elizabeth (or Lizzie) Thomson Fraser was born on 4th February 1878 in Uphall, Linlithgowshire. Her father, William, was a managing director and was still alive when Lizzie matriculated at Queen Margaret College to study medicine in 1895, aged 17. At that time she was living at Serbton, Maxwell Drive, Pollockshields. These were challenging times for women students and Lizzie was a pioneer, sharing labs and classes with some of the most gifted and determined young women of her generation, like Daisy Bennett, Agnes Blackadder and Annie McIlroy. Glasgows first woman doctor, Marion Gilchrist, had graduated just a year before Lizzie began her studies.

Lizzie was an outstanding student, graduating on 19th July 1900, with a long list of merits and distinctions behind her. In 1896 she took First Class certificates in Chemistry and Materia Medica, and a Second Class Certificate in Junior Anatomy. Over the following two years she gained First Class Certificates in Anatomy, Pharmacy and Practical Physiology, a Second Class Certificate in Embryology. In the session of 1898-1899, she thrived on her studies.

She was the medallist in midwifery, and took another clutch of First Class certificates in Surgery, Ophthalmology, Pathology, Medical Jurisprudence and Public Health, and Insanity. After graduating, she continued her academic studies, and in 1906 her crowning achievement was the award of the Bellahouston Gold Medal when she graduated MD with Honours for her thesis On the Value of the Tuberculo-opsonic Index in Diagnosis.

Just a few months before the First World War broke out, Lizzie married Frederick William Robertson Butler, a lecturer at the University of Lemberg in Austria. The ceremony was at the Grand Hotel in Glasgow on the 27th March 1914. Lizzie had been awarded a Breit Memorial Research Fellowship from the Lister Institute and she had been working on a cancer research project in Lemberg just before the war. She and her husband became refugees when the war began.

Lizzie wrote to the Lister Institute offering her services either at home or abroad. In the end she and her husband found their niche in the Scottish Womens Hospital at Royaumont, set up in 1914, thanks to the efforts of the suffragette societies and the untiring labours of Edinburgh doctor, Elsie Inglis. Frederick, Lizzies husband, found useful work as a chauffeur for a short time, and Lizzie organised a laboratory which won high praise from Professor Weinberg of the Pasteur Institute, an expert on gangrene, when he visited Glasgow in March 1916.

After the war, Lizzie returned and lived in Glasgow for a spell, in Pollockshields, with her family. From the 1930s, however, she was in the south of England, first in Weybridge, Sussex and then at 1 De Walden Court, Eastbourne, Sussex. She died on 8th October 1960, aged 82.

Many thanks to the University of Glasgow

Elizabeth Byran

Date of Bith: 1885
Place of Birth: Alexandria

Elisha Currie Bryan aka Elizabeth,was born in 1885 at Alexandria,Dunbartonshire. She was a daughter of Alexandria born parents,William and Mary. Her dad was a Joiner.In 1891,the family were living in Govan,Glasgow at 8,Alma Street. 1901 shows the family having moved back to Alexandria,where the family were living at 10,Stirling Street,Renton.16 year old “Elizabeth” was working as a Factory worker

Elizabeth, a nurse joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals on the 1st of July 1915. Her post was in the small town of Valjevo in Serbia, a town some 80 miles south of Belgrade. That winter Valjevo had gone through its own personal hell, thousands of its citizens and thousands of soldiers had perished in a typhus outbreak that was destroying huge parts of Serbia. Valjevo had itself been turned into one large field hospital and many, many men lay wounded and untreated due to the lack of Doctors and nurses.The unit worked completely under canvas on a hillside just outside the town and although it was an improving picture by the time they reached there, there was still plenty of work to do. Dr Alice Hutchinson and her unit are fondly remembered today in Valjevo for their bravery and helping to bring stability to the towns people. At Valjevo;s National Museum there are documents and photos on display.
By late October 1915 Belgrade had fallen and Serbia was forced into retreat, Dr Alice Hutchinson’s unit refused to leave and short spells at Vrinjacka Banja and Krushevac. However in November Elizabeth decided to join the Serbian retreat. The retreat as witnessed by Elizabeth and her band of women 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. Hundreds of thousands of Serbians poured like blood from the heart of the motherland. Estimates state that well over 150,000 men, women and children died, killed or were lost along the way. History has few parallels to this mass exodus. Elizabeth with around 20 other SWH members after 7 weeks walking through the snow and mountains finally made to the Adriatic sea, where they were taken by ship to Brindisi in Italy before making their way home. For Elizabeth this was not the end of her war,in November 1917 she joined the SWH again and elected to head to Corsica. The unit at Corsica began in December 1915 as a result of Serbian refugees pouring into Salonika as Serbia was completely overtaking by invading forces. Elizabeth and her unit were responsible for the welfare and recovery of mainly children during that time. The hospital at Ajaccio was based at the Villa Miot and the grounds were also required for tents to house the sick. Elizabeth worked at Ajaccio until May 1918. An incredible lady with a fantastic story. Elizabeth died in sussex in 1960.

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