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Agnes Kerr Earl

Date of Bith: 1886
Place of Birth: Cumnock

Agnes Kerr Earl was born on the 31st of March 1886 in Townhead, Cumnock, her father William Earl was a joiner. Agnes mother Jane Purdie passed away early in her life and was brought up by her father. At the age of 25 she was living in Louden street Machline with her father.
On December 1916 she joined the Scottish Womens Hospitals as a nurse and set sail from Southampton to Salonika(Thessaloniki) a two week journey in them days and fraught with dangers from submarines, mines and Zeppelins over head. She joined the American unit, the units name was a result of the donations that had poured over the Atlantic Sea. The unit was made up of 60 women, not just from Scotland but England, Wales and Australia. Agnes Chief Medical Officer was the brilliant Dr Agnes Bennett and from Australia. Their main objective was to support the 2nd Serbian Army who were fighting the Bulgarians in the Moglena mountains the bigger picture was to support a huge force of Serbians , French and British to reclaim Serbia and push back the Germans, Austrians and Bulgarians. From 1916-1918 Agnes would have worked often at times day and night and all under canvas. The conditions were very hard going,Cases of malaria, gas gangrene, amputations all a common sight, at times quiet then hundreds of injured men pouring in, very hot summers and cold winters and on the more as the front line moved back and forth. Agnes worked for periods at Salonika, Lake Ostrovo, Mikra Bay and a number of small field dressing hospitals. By November 1918 the Serbs were on the march home and Agnes moved to Vranje in Serbia working this time under Dr Isobel Emslie. The hospital at Vranje was a large ex army barracks and packed with hundreds of patients with a hole manner appalling conditions, pneumonia, pleurisy and serious surgical cases. Sadder still was one women’s account of the children ” the injuries are terrible, we have had several poor little hands to amputate and often they have terrible abdominal wounds”
Cold weather came to Vranje and with it typhus, Agnes by this time was the sister in charge and had being doing a fantastic job and the death rates were very low. However while dressing a gangrenous limb she got a scratch which turned septic and two later she was dead. Mary Green remarked ” she had done heroic work in the typhus ward, never sparing herself in any way, a handsome girl, tall and strong and with a splendid character”
The Serbs were very sad at the news and rich and poor came bringing flowers, it was noted that vast crowds lined the streets for her funeral. British tommies formed the firing party and sounded the last post. A monument was erected by the Serbs as she was a favourite with them all.
Today Agnes’s remains are buried in Nis in Serbia along with 5 other SWH members, am happy to say the grave and cemetery are well looked after and she is not forgotten among the Serbian people.

Edith Maud Edwards

Date of Bith: 1865
Place of Birth: Plymouth

EDITH MAUD EDWARDS (1865-1956)

By kind permission of Mr Neale Edwards.

My Great Aunt, Edith Maud Edwards, was born in Plymouth on January 1st 1865. Her father, Edwin Edwards, was a draper in that City, her mother was a lady, Emma Jane Neale, whose family came from Toller Porcorum near Dorchester in Dorset. EME was a twin, her sister being Ada Maud Edwards, who married a Doctor, John Gaynor. She had two more sisters, Charlotte Elizabeth and Emma Kate, and a brother, my Grandfather, William Henry Neale Edwards, known as Neale.
EME trained at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, with her lifelong friend, Laura Henrietta Ulph, known as ‘Ulphus’. They qualified at Bart’s and EME went out to nurse in South Africa in the Boer War. She returned, disturbed by the way surgeons operated while inebriated. One surgeon was court-martialed following this experience.
EME, at the age of 50, and Miss Ulph, joined the Scottish Women’s Hospital under Elsie Inglis in 1916. She travelled in August of that year from Liverpool to Archangel, Russia, in SS Huntspill, a captured Austrian ship. She continued her journey by train to Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria. She was in Odessa on the day of the outbreak of the Russian Revolution.
She and Miss Ulph served together throughout, and both were near starvation for a period.
On her return, she continued a nursing career and was a Matron at Barts until 1936, at which point she had to retire, being 70. She returned having signed on as a cleaner, with bucket and mop, but was found out and had to give up again.
EME and Miss Ulph founded a nursing home at Westgate in Kent, and this continued until well after the war.
She and Miss Ulph finally retired to Peacehaven in Sussex.
EME died in the late1950s.
During her professional career, EME never drew her pay, believing that others needed it more than she did.
A Naval Captain, author of boys’ adventure stories, T.T.Jeanes, wanted to marry her, but he didn’t want children and EME turned him down on those grounds. He became an Admiral, married, and had six children! EME was strikingly good looking, tall and high spirited. She never married.
EME wrote an illustrated Diary covering her years with the Scottish Women’s Hospital, which I have. I am making arrangements to have it copied and printed.
I remember EME extremely clearly. As a child, I was almost unaware of her age, so much fun was she. As early teenagers, my sister and I would play ‘he’ with her in her garden, but could never catch her because house rules allowed her to jump over, and walk on flower beds! I was bribed with a Fiver, a Snowy, by her to achieve a first class in Trials (exams at Eton) but I was only paid once; my father wouldn’t allow a repeat! I had many letters from her about such subjects as winning spurs and other encouragements to do well. She was very fine looking, animated, pencil thin, and a great wearer of large knitted cardigans and fingerless knitted gloves. Throughout her long life, she was a truly outstanding person.

The above picture has Nurse Ulph with Edith Edwards sitting on the right .

Edith Maud Edwards

Date of Bith: 1865
Place of Birth: Plymouth

EDITH MAUD EDWARDS (1865-1956)

By kind permission of Mr Neale Edwards.

My Great Aunt, Edith Maud Edwards, was born in Plymouth on January 1st 1865. Her father, Edwin Edwards, was a draper in that City, her mother was a lady, Emma Jane Neale, whose family came from Toller Porcorum near Dorchester in Dorset. EME was a twin, her sister being Ada Maud Edwards, who married a Doctor, John Gaynor. She had two more sisters, Charlotte Elizabeth and Emma Kate, and a brother, my Grandfather, William Henry Neale Edwards, known as Neale.
EME trained at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, with her lifelong friend, Laura Henrietta Ulph, known as ‘Ulphus’. They qualified at Bart’s and EME went out to nurse in South Africa in the Boer War. She returned, disturbed by the way surgeons operated while inebriated. One surgeon was court-martialed following this experience.
EME, at the age of 50, and Miss Ulph, joined the Scottish Women’s Hospital under Elsie Inglis in 1916. She travelled in August of that year from Liverpool to Archangel, Russia, in SS Huntspill, a captured Austrian ship. She continued her journey by train to Romania, Serbia and Bulgaria. She was in Odessa on the day of the outbreak of the Russian Revolution.
She and Miss Ulph served together throughout, and both were near starvation for a period.
On her return, she continued a nursing career and was a Matron at Barts until 1936, at which point she had to retire, being 70. She returned having signed on as a cleaner, with bucket and mop, but was found out and had to give up again.
EME and Miss Ulph founded a nursing home at Westgate in Kent, and this continued until well after the war.
She and Miss Ulph finally retired to Peacehaven in Sussex.
EME died in the late1950s.
During her professional career, EME never drew her pay, believing that others needed it more than she did.
A Naval Captain, author of boys’ adventure stories, T.T.Jeanes, wanted to marry her, but he didn’t want children and EME turned him down on those grounds. He became an Admiral, married, and had six children! EME was strikingly good looking, tall and high spirited. She never married.
EME wrote an illustrated Diary covering her years with the Scottish Women’s Hospital, which I have. I am making arrangements to have it copied and printed.
I remember EME extremely clearly. As a child, I was almost unaware of her age, so much fun was she. As early teenagers, my sister and I would play ‘he’ with her in her garden, but could never catch her because house rules allowed her to jump over, and walk on flower beds! I was bribed with a Fiver, a Snowy, by her to achieve a first class in Trials (exams at Eton) but I was only paid once; my father wouldn’t allow a repeat! I had many letters from her about such subjects as winning spurs and other encouragements to do well. She was very fine looking, animated, pencil thin, and a great wearer of large knitted cardigans and fingerless knitted gloves. Throughout her long life, she was a truly outstanding person.

The above picture has Nurse Ulph with Edith Edwards sitting on the right .

Winifred Eliis

Date of Bith: 1885
Place of Birth: Inverness

Winnie was raised at the family home and business in Nairn. Her mother Margaret owned the Seabank Golf View Hotel in Nairn. Winnie joined the Scottish Women’s Hospital as an ambulance driver. 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 unit was known as The London Unit due to the donations that came from the city, it was also known as the Fifth Serbian Unit as the mission was to support the First Serbian Army who were attached to the Russian army. 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 . 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 Winnie 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.Winnie returned home on the 1st of March 1917.

Artbuthnot Elizabeth

Date of Bith: 1889
Place of Birth: Edinburgh

When Elizabeth Gertrude Gough Arbuthnot and her twin brother Robert Wemyss Muir were born on July 25, 1889, in Edinburgh, Midlothian, their father, Robert, was 46 and their mother, Helen, was 26. She had one brother and one sister.

Elizabeth served as an orderly in the Scottish Women’s Hospitals. Joining the London unit between July 1917 until November 1917. Elizabeth served on the Russian front and was stationed for part of that time in Roumainia. Elizabeth in February 1918 again joined the SWH, this time joining the Elsie Inglis Unit. The Unit served in Serbia and Macedonia supporting the Serbs as they pushed for home. On the 18th of February 1918, prior to departure, the unit was inspected by the King and Queen at Buckingham palace. The King addressed the unit and spoke of how the Royal family had greatly admired the units late Chief Dr Elsie Inglis. Elizabeth returned home in January 1919.

She died on November 11, 1976, in London, at the age of 87.

Arbuthnot Elizabeth

Date of Bith: 1889
Place of Birth: Edinburgh

When Elizabeth Gertrude Gough Arbuthnot and her twin brother Robert Wemyss Muir were born on July 25, 1889, in Edinburgh, Midlothian, their father, Robert, was 46 and their mother, Helen, was 26. She had one brother and one sister.

Elizabeth served as an orderly in the Scottish Women’s Hospitals. Joining the London unit between July 1917 until November 1917. Elizabeth served on the Russian front and was stationed for part of that time in Roumainia. Elizabeth in February 1918 again joined the SWH, this time joining the Elsie Inglis Unit. The Unit served in Serbia and Macedonia supporting the Serbs as they pushed for home. On the 18th of February 1918, prior to departure, the unit was inspected by the King and Queen at Buckingham palace. The King addressed the unit and spoke of how the Royal family had greatly admired the units late Chief Dr Elsie Inglis. Elizabeth returned home in January 1919.

She died on November 11, 1976, in London, at the age of 87.

Mary Bella Esson

Date of Bith: 1888
Place of Birth: Drumoak, Aberdeeshire

Mary Bella was born and lived in Drumoak Aberdeenshire. Her father Harry was a farm servant. There address at the time being Easter Beltie cottage. At the age of 12 she was at school and living in Drummie, Tarland, her father by this time was a farm manager. In October 1915 until May 1917 Mary worked as an orderly with the Girton and Newnham unit. Mary 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. With the Serbs being pushed back they were forced to set up camp again in Salonika. The hospital at Salonika was a large all canvas hospital. 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 duties would have been hard work with long hours and the heat was unbearable with many of the staff being sent home and some of the women died due to malaria. Life as an orderly was only for the hardy souls, daily carrying stretchers from place to place, the washing and cleaning of the men and wounds. The lifting of equipment and bags of bloodstained and dirty clothes. Freezing in the winter and boiling hot in the summer these women were certainly the backbone of the operations.

Annie M Evans

Date of Bith: 1872
Place of Birth: Cwmdare, Glamorgan

Before heading to Serbia Annie was Matron of the Blackburn Fever Hospital, she worked at the hospital for 14 years, but in 1915 eager to play her part in ww1 she joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals and by ship took the journey to Serbia. She joined her unit in September 1915 as a nurse.

Valjevo, a town some 80 miles south of Belgrade had that winter 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 who was in charge of the 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 when they organized dressing hospitals they were eventually taken as prisoners of war, an ordeal for Annie with Alice continually harassing her Austrian officials and with 32 other women were sent out of Serbia to a camp in Hungary. Over the next two months Alice badgered and pestered her captors until they were sent home via Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Winifred Louisa Everingham

Date of Bith: 1880
Place of Birth: London

Winifred Louisa Everingham

Born in 1880 in Kensington, London. Winifred’s father Albert worked for the East India company as a broker.
At the age of 21 Winifred was working in the East London Hospital for children and dispensary for women. By 1911 she was already a nurse working at the Infants Hospital in Vincent square, Westminster.
She joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in August 1917. Winifred held the position as Chief Theatre Sister. She was deployed to France, and worked as a nurse at Royaumont and Villers Cotterets. She remained in France until December 1918. In January 1919 she headed to Serbia, again working with the SWH. As a nurse Winifred worked in Vranje before eventually moving up to Belgrade. Winifred left the SWH and Serbia in September 1919.
More details can be found of Winifred’s war years in the book The Women of Royaumont: Scottish Women’s Hospital on the Western Front by Eileen Crofton.
In 1956 she passed away in Chichester, West Sussex.

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