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Mary Isabel Tatham

Date of Bith: 1885
Place of Birth: Lancashire

Mary grew up in Patricroft in Lancashire. Born on the 18th of October 1885 her father William was a cotton yarn buyer. By 1911 Mary was living in Macclesfield her Occupation was given as Private Means.

Mary’s war years were astounding and packed with adventure. In 1915 Mary served with Stobart Field Hospital (Serbian Relief Unit), Kraguyevatz, Serbia. 1916-1917, Corsica, Serbian Relief Fund. In May 1918 she joined the Scottish Women’s Hospital at Royaumont and Villers-Coterets, France, until the Armistice.
After the war she traveled to Sydney, Australia where she wrote about her experiences, particularly about the Serbian retreat.
“The field hospital had been busy for eight months trying to stem the awful tide of death which was sweeping over the country, and, together with other volunteer units, had pretty well succeeded.

The typhus, sinister legacy of the Austrians when they evacuated Belgrade at Christmas 1914, had been carried to the farthest comer of Serbia by soldiers going home on leave – to the little farms and cottages where, under Turkish domination for hundreds of years, the ideas of hygiene and sanitation were practically undeveloped. With the result that nearly a third of the total population succumbed.

By October 1915 the typhus had been fought and beaten, and then the human enemy overwhelmed the country. The Bulgarians declared war early in October. Simultaneously the Austrians attacked on the north, and the field hospital had to retreat with the Army.

We were in the town of Kraguyevatz, arsenal of Serbia, which had suffered the bombardment of Austrian aeroplanes for weeks before the evacuation. and was left an open city. Having sent off every man who had sound feet, and left those who were unable to move in charge of American doctors (who were then neutrals) the trek southwards began.

It was southwards at first, for we had been told that, if we could reach Monastir, there was the possibility of transport to Salonika. The single railway line from Belgrade to Salonika had been cut the first day after the declaration of war by the Bulgarians; and there was the life-line, as it were, severed, for on that railway line all the stores, men, and ammunition were transported.

We started off with bullock-wagons with as much of the hospital equipment as we could carry, and for three weeks we trekked south – a long, slow procession of springless carts, each drawn by oxen, moving deliberately at the rate of two miles an hour – day or night was all one.

Several times the unit halted, hoping that the retreat was stayed, for all the telephone wires were down, and no one knew exactly what was happening. There we would rig up a dressing station, and dress the wounds of the men as they marched by, and there we were invariably sent to join the retreating mass again, as the sound of the guns drew nearer and the towns behind were occupied by the enemy.

The stream of the refugees grew daily greater – mothers, children, bedding, pots and pans, food and fodder, all packed into the jolting wagons; wounded soldiers, exhausted, starving, hopeless men, and (after the first few days) leaden skies and pitiless rain, and the awful, clinging, squelching mud.

The roads were obliterated by the passage of big guns – those guns served by that wonderful “Last Hope” of the Serbians, the old men, the Cheechas, the “uncles”, who held the enemy for the priceless few days or even hours, and so saved the youth of the country.

For every Serbian boy – every man-child over twelve – had to retreat. The Serbians had at last realized that the enemy were out to finish her as a nation, and the only way to save herself was to run away. And at first all those battalions of boys, gay with the coloured blankets they carried coiled across their backs, camping round the great camp-fires at night, were happy – until the days grew into weeks, and the rain fell and fell and there was no bread anywhere.

But the rain, which churned up the mud, and soaked the ill-clad people, was called by the Serbians “the little friend of Serbia”, for it held up the Austrian advance, and consequently saved practically the whole of Serbia’s remaining Army.

We camped one night in an old monastery, deep in the heart of the mountains, the residence of the Metropolitan, dating back to the thirteenth century. Here it was decided we might stop for a time, and the monks gave us their new school-house for a dressing station.

We had high hopes of being able to remain the winter, so entirely ignorant were we all of the real conditions, and we actually did remain for a fortnight, amongst the most beautiful hills, clothed in their gorgeous autumn colours, for the country thereabouts was one glowing wonder of beech-woods.

Until again came the order to evacuate, and in haste, for we were not on the beaten track, and were in danger of being cut off.

We had orders to go to a town called Rashka, and we trudged there in a jam of ox-wagons and soldiers, big guns and refugees, in the most appalling mud and pelting rain – and quite unquenchable good spirits. Until we were nearly there, when one of our number was shot through the lungs – an accidental shot, fired by an irate farmer after some flying refugees who were stealing his horses.

The injured girl was taken to a Serbian dressing station about eight miles back along the road, with two doctors and a nurse; after which the rest of us tramped unhappily on, knowing that they would inevitably be taken prisoners, which they were two days later.

They were well treated, however, by the Austrians, and when the girl who had been shot was sufficiently recovered to undertake the journey, they were all passed through Vienna and Switzerland, and so home to England. But that is another story.

Meanwhile, the rest of us arrived, soaked to the skin, at Rashka, and were cheered by hot soup and cocoa, in the awful little hovel in which the earlier arrivals were housed.

We slept that night under a roof, but infinitely preferred our previous nights under the stars, for about twenty of us were crammed into an indescribably filthy room, over a stable full of Army horses, and next to a larger room in which they were making shells!

In those days there was no time for factories. Things were made anywhere. Most of the Army had no uniforms. The country had not recovered from the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, and there was no help outside the country when all Europe was engaged in her own bitter struggle.

Then, two days before we would have reached Monastir, the Bulgarians took it. We had no choice now but to cross the mountains – the mountains of Albania and Montenegro, which we had been told were impassable for women in the winter. The three weeks’ trek south had made us three weeks later in the beginning of the attempt, and the very first night we got to the narrow ways, the snow came.

The roads were now too narrow for wagons, even though at the beginning they had been sawn laboriously in half, so that two wheels might pass where four would not, and the only means of transport were pack-mules or donkeys. These carried what food we had, and the blankets without which we would have perished. For many died on those pitiless mountains, and the snow fell and covered up their misery for ever.

Yet, with all hope gone, their country left behind, their women left behind (for when we reached the mountains the only women were the Red Cross units), starving, beaten, miserable, how wonderful were those soldiers!

Peasants, driven from the soil which bred them, these men had no high education to tell them how to hold themselves in this disaster. But every Serbian is a poet: how else had they kept their souls free under 500 years of the Turkish yoke?

And ever down those years, entirely through their songs and stories, and through their religion (for, to give the Turks their due, they did not interfere with that), they had kept alive and burning bright the flame of the belief that one day their country would be free.

And in the year 1912 it came true, for the small Balkan states banded together and pushed the Turks out of their country – back to Constantinople. But for a pitiful short time, for in 1914 came Armageddon.

These retreating men, even if they won through wounds and starvation and exposure and hardship unspeakable, had only hope of exile. For us who were with them, the end of our journey was home. So it was easier to bear things cheerily, though hearts could hold no more of pity.

Simple as children, with the unquestioning gratitude of such, no one ever saw them other than forbearing with each other, when men fell dead of starvation while waiting for the ration of bread and were laid by the roadside and left for the snow to shroud; no one ever saw them other than courteous to women.

And when one remembers how the conditions of retreat can turn men into animals, when things are down to the bed-rock of primitive passions and desire for life, then it is a proud thing to remember also the high courage with which this people bore their disaster.

To add to the horrors of the retreat, there fell upon the mountains in that December one of the worst snow-storms for decades, and then was the pathway indeed bordered by death.

We were crossing the higher passes, and only a 2-foot track wound upwards. On the right were snow-covered cliffs, on the left a sheer drop to the river 1,000 feet below. Two mules could not pass each other on that path, deep in snow or slippery with ice, and when a pack mule fell and died (brave little faithful beasts of burden) there they froze and the trail passed over them.

The worst night of the storm we sheltered in an Albanian hut. The fire smoldered in the middle of the mud floor, the smoke escaping through a hole in the roof – and round the fire squatted the family – unto the third and fourth generation!

Around them again, the refugees, soldiers, and nurses, and the livestock of the little farm. (My neighbour on one side was a warm and comfortable calf!)

Everything that could be sheltered was sheltered; those that had no shelter remained out on the mountain and died. In the morning, the pack-mules, which were under the lee of the hut, were frozen stiff; and again the blankets and gear were reduced.

At the last, when the mountains were crossed, and the weary, muddy miles to the sea lay before us, nothing remained to most of us but what we carried ourselves.

But we had our lives, and many had left theirs on those cruel heights. But for those exiles, literally bereft of everything that made life worth living – family, home, country – what use, after all, seemed even that?

Those last days, towards the sea and the ultimate hope of rest, were even more dreadful than the rest. For now it was not the snow which covered death and corruption, but mud. It seemed as though there never had been and never again could be anything else than rain, rain, rain. And in all the world there is surely nothing more depressing than rain which falls soddenly on mud, and mud which receives all sullenly the rain.

Then, as the uttermost depths seemed reached, the skies of the nearly-last night cleared. It was late, nearly midnight, but the little fishing village on the Adriatic coast had somehow to be reached by morning – for a ship was to be there to take us off. (It was torpedoed, and we sat on the shore, as it happened, for three more days.)

And suddenly, out of the welter of misery, the road burst out on to the sea – lying dark and shining under stars; and perhaps the most vivid memory of all those weeks of adventure is the sight of her – sudden, beautiful, clean. “Who hath desired the sea, the immense and contemptuous surges”; after all, what was starvation and death?

The Italian ship which was to meet us at San Giovanni di Medua was, as I said, torpedoed, along with every food-ship which was being sent by the Italian Government to meet the refugees. The little harbour was full of the sprouting masts and funnels of unhappy ships which had been sunk, a pitiful sight at the ebb of the tide.

And the surrounding hills were quivering at night with the little fires of innumerable soldiers, who had survived starvation on the mountains only to meet it again on the shore. While overhead the Austrian aeroplanes circled, and dropped their bombs.

Then, after three days, a ship got through. Little as she was, she was able to take off all the Red Cross units. The soldiers had to set off again on that everlasting trek, down to Alassio and the further ports. No man of military age was allowed on board, but many refugees who were quite hopelessly smashed, and women of the coast as well, filled the little ship literally to overflowing.

There was not room for all to lie down. Twice she was attacked, and tacking, swerving, zigzagging across the Adriatic, we came at last at dawn to Brindisi. And as the light grew, to port and starboard of the little ship, loomed in the mist first one and then another protecting form. And hearts at last believed in safety, for they were British gunboats. We landed at Brindisi, and had our first real meal for over two months.”

Mary Isabel Tatham died in 1956 after returning home to Macclesfield.

Alice Tebbutt

Date of Bith: 1868
Place of Birth: Bluntisham, Huntingdonshire

The Tebbutt Family of Bluntisham were staunch members of the village Baptist Meeting House. Alice was the daughter of Charles Prentice Tebbutt, Bank Manager and Farmer (of 340 acres employing 13 men and 5 boys in 1871). She was born in Bluntisham, Huntingdonshire in 1868. She was brought up in the family home “The Walnut Trees”, photo attached. They were a wealthy family. Her mother, Mary Tebbutt died in 1891. Alice seems to have looked after her father for the next 20 years. When her father died in 1910 he left an estate valued at £36,749 11s 5d. Probate was granted to her 5 brothers: Neville, Sidney, Arnold, Charles Goodwin and Louis. In 1911 her brother Charles Goodman was living in the “Walnut Trees” with his family.
On March 25th 1926 her name appears on the passenger list of the “Khyber” sailing from London to Yokohama but her destination was Shanghai. Her address was given as Rochfort House, Bathurst Rd., Bath. Her brother Lt. Col. Louis Tebbutt is listed with her but his details have been crossed out.

In April 1915 Alice Tebbutt signed up to serve as an orderly with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in Serbia.On the 21st of April Alice met her new colleagues 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 Alice 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.

On the 8th of October 1915 Belgrade fell and Serbia was thrown into chaos, Valjevo was on the main railway line and they were given orders to evacuate, firstly to the town of Vrnjacka banja at that point some of the women choose to join the Serbia Retreat, Alice stayed and at the end of November the unit were moved to the town of Krusevac, not a happy experience as they were accommodated in an overcrowded and filthy hotel and now prisoners of war. Dr Alice Hutchison;s earned the nickname of “the little General” due to her persistence and constant badgering of her captures the unit were removed from Serbia and by train was sent to Hungary where they were sent to a POW camp for the next few months. Finally being allowed to return home at the end of February. Alice told a reporter on her return ” Alice Hutchison was simply splendid, she had to bear the brunt of the brutal abuse that came our way”

Only four months after her ordeal Alice was back on board another ship, again she signed up to work with Scottish Womens Hospitals and joined the American unit, so called due to huge amount of donations coming in from America. 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 July 1916-January 1917 Alice 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 move as the front line breathed back and forth. Alice worked for periods at Salonika and Lake Ostrovo, But like all the units they always made time for the women to engage in sports, dance and song with local people. And Alice would have enjoyed her nights dancing the kolo while learning the words to songs like Tamo Daleko a favourite among many of the women. An incredible lady, and was awarded the Serbian Order of St Sava. Alice Tebbutt died in January 1957, she is buried at the Baptist Chapel in the village of Bluntisham Cambridgeshire.

Many thanks to Marian Land for her knowledge and input.

Norah, Soutter Tempest

Date of Bith: 1886
Place of Birth: Dundalk, Ireland

The daughter of the wealthy Dundalk merchant William Tempest, Nora was born in 1886 in the town of Dundalk, Ireland.

In September 1915 Nora joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals as a cook and headed to war torn Serbia where she would work at the large hospital in Kragujevac under the command of Dr Elsie Ingis.
Nora’s war was ephemeral, nevertheless she ended up after only being in Serbia for two months walking the great Serbia retreat. Following the invasion of the German, Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian armies into Serbia in October 1915. With his forces vastly outnumbered and outgunned, Serb Vojvoda Marshal Radomir Putnik ordered a full retreat of the Serbian military south and west, down through the plains of Kosovo and over the mountains of Albania and Montenegro .The weather was dreadful the roads and tracks were barely passable and the army had to assist the tens of thousands of civilians who had retreated alongside the soldiers who had almost no supplies or food left. But the bad weather and poor roads worked for the Serbians as well, as the Germans and Bulgarians could not advance past the treacherous Albanian mountains, and so the thousands of Serbs who were fleeing their homeland managed to evade capture. However, hundreds of thousands of them were lost due to hunger, disease, starvation, frostbite and hypothermia and many perished in the hands of Albanian tribal bands. And by the time this human river of misery and heartbreak reached the Adriatic sea nearly 300,000 men, women and children had vanished or lay dead in the snows of their mountain graves. Thousands more would die by the time they reached the safety of Corfu, the waters off the the island Vido were to be know as the Blue Graveyard. For Nora and the other members of the SWH that made the seven week trek, this surely must have had an immense effect on them. Nora took many photos on the retreat the picture above is one of hers, she also wrote in the newspapers about her experiences.

In 1916 Nora married and had a child. She lived her life in Dundalk and there she died in 1960.

Gertude Mary Tew

Date of Bith: 1889
Place of Birth: Cheadle, Staffordshire

Gertude grew up in the family home at Millhouse Farm, Hollington Road Cheadle, her father John was a farmer. In 1911 Gertude was working as a Mental Nurse at Camberwell House Asylum, Peckham Road, Camberwell.
In April 1915 she joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals and headed to Serbia. By April 1915 the typhus outbreak that had been under control 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, Gertudes CMO, 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 Dr McGregor and her nurses joined “The Great Serbian Retreat” Gertude joined the endless procession of men, women and children, a beaten nation, attempting in the frozen depths of winter with very little or no food and poorly clothed to trek for weeks covering hundreds of miles over the Albanian and Montenegrin mountain. 100,000’s of thousands of Serbians poured like blood from the heart of the motherland, estimates that well over 150,000 died, killed or were lost along the way. History has few parallels to this mass exodus. Gertude Tew 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. The Serbs have never forgotten their bravery and Gertude was awarded the Serbian Cross of Mercy. Today the fountain at Mladenovac, built to remember the SWH, still holds a ceremony to honour these gallant women.
Gertude died in Bournemouth in1973.

Marguerite Thicke

Date of Bith: 1891
Place of Birth: Oxfordshire

Marguerite Olive Thicke
Born in Oxford in 1891.
Her father Richard was working as a hall servant at the college. In the 1911 census Marguerite is now working as a nurse at The Cig Infectious Diseases Hospital, Over Highnam Near Gloucester, she is aged 20. Prior to ww1 Marguerite was living at 5 glebe st Oxford.
In September 1916 she joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals Girton and newnham unit and headed to Salonika. Previously the unit had served at Troyes in France. But in October 1915 a combined Franco-British force of some two large brigades was landed at Salonika (today called Thessalonika) at the request of the Greek Prime Minister. The objective was to help the Serbs in their fight against Bulgarian aggression. But the expedition arrived too late, the Serbs having been beaten before they landed. It was decided to keep the force in place for future operations, 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. The hospital at Geuvgueli quickly dissolved as Serbia had fallen and the great retreat had begun. Marguerit spent the next year and a half nursing at the large SWH hospital in Salonika. The hospital at Salonika was a large all canvas hospital and had been mainly used to support the Serbs and allied troops pushing back into Serbia. Marguerite left the unit in May 1918.

She died in 1970 in Oxford.

Jean Thom

Date of Bith: 1871
Place of Birth: Glasgow

JEAN THOM was born in Glasgow in 1871.Her maiden name was Jean Hogg McOwat,daughter of Grocer William and Jessie.In 1901,she was a Hospital Nurse at Ayr County Hospital. 1911 census shows her as being a widow,at her brother’s house at 33 Academy Street,Coatbridge.

Jean Thom served a nurse at Royaumont Abbey, 30 miles from Paris. The Abbey operated as hospital from January 1915-March 1919. The hospital rose to importance during the many battles along the Western Front including the battle of the Somme. Jean went out on February 1917 and worked on until December 1918. By 1918 the Germans, due to the ending of the war with Russia had up to 30% more soldiers available. German offensives were carried out at Lys, Ypres and the Champagne regions. The hospital at Villers-Cotterets was forced to evacuate, thus giving the hospital at Royaumont a huge amount of extra work. The number of beds at the hospital was now 400 and by May that increased to 600. The hours were long and all the staff were exhausted, wounded men poured in day after day. 1918 was a testing year and perhaps their finest hour.

Jemima Tindal

Date of Bith: 1881
Place of Birth: Aberdeen

Born in Aberdeen in 1881, Jemima grew up in the city’s Wellington st, her father Alexander was a cashier/bookkeeper.
On the 1st of April 1915 she joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals and headed to war torn Serbia. Serbia was also devastated by the huge typhus epidemic that had swept the country a few months earlier. With few surviving doctors and very few nurses the work Jemima would carry out over the next five months would be critical in helping the Serb soldiers and many of the country’s civilians. 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 Valjevo, there was still plenty of work to do.A backlog of illnesses combined with malnutrition and long time suffering, Jemima would certainly have had her work cut out. On entry to the hospital to help stop the spread of typhus and any other diseases the men would be stripped, clothes were burned or boiled in hot water, all body hair was removed and the men and beds sprayed with benzene to kill the lice and prevent to spread of this awful killer. Jemima was lucky enough to get sent home in September in 1915, other members of the unit were not so fortunate and many in the next few months either went on the Serbian retreat or became POW, at Kragujevac. Dr Alice Hutchinson and her unit are fondly remembered today in Valjevo for their bravery and helping to bring stability and saving the lives to the towns people.

Helen, Wardlaw Toshack

Date of Bith: 1880
Place of Birth: Dunfermilne

Helen W. Toshack aka Nellie was b. 23/8/1880 at Bowershall, Dunfermline. Her parents were Saline born Railway Surfaceman,Thomas and Dunfermline born,mother Janet Low.
1891 Census of Dunfermline shows Nellie living with her parents and three siblings at Bowershall.
1901 Census has Nellie working as a Domestic Housemaid for a family at 1,Park Quadrant,in the Kelvin District of Glasgow.
Helen served as a nurse with the unit in Corsica between April 1917-November 1917. Refugees who had poured out of Serbia during the early part of 1916 and were suffering from the appalling conditions that they had endured on the retreat. Starving and exhausted many of the civilians were shipped over to the safety of Corsica where Dr Mary Blair on Christmas day 1915 had set up a hospital unit to aid with the suffering. The hospital was really the only hospital unit set up by the organisation to work primarily with civilians. The hospital was closed in the spring of 1919.

Helen Received the British War medal after serving in the French Red Cross.She died on 30/9/1957 at Dunfermline.Her address at that time was 7,St Leonards Street,Dunfermline.

Caroline Toughill

Date of Bith: 1865
Place of Birth: Bengal, India

Caroline Toughill was born in Saugov in Bengal, India in about 1865, as Caroline Macdonnel Ferrier Reid Brown. She was the only daughter of Major Robert Brown of the 29th Madras Native Infantry. She was sent to the UK to be educated and is shown on records as living at Gresham House in Heston, Middlesex. She married Francis Toughill, a private in the Scots Guards, in Ireland in December 1896. Tragically, it appears that he died on the very same day that they were married. She gave birth to a son, Francis Jnr, in 1897[2]. She resided in Edinburgh at 1 Roseburn Gardens and lived from private means (probably a pension or inheritance)[3].
Caroline Toughill served with the SWH as one of Dr. McGregor’s unit in Mladanovatz in Serbia from 1st July 1915[4] when the tasks were both treating war injured and dealing with a severe typhus epidemic. The Serbian army’s medical capabilities were woefully inadequate (their army medical service had a mere 300 doctors to serve half a million troops) and there was little commitment to maintaining appropriate levels of hygiene and sanitation in the army. As a consequence infectious diseases, especially typhus, took a heavy toll on the army and on the civilian population.
The Serbian army were forced into retreat in the second half of 1915 and marched through south Serbia and into Albania and Montenegro where, after enduring indescribable hardship, the survivors were picked up by the Italian and French navies and taken to safety in Corfu. The SWH and other British military, medical and relief missions joined the retreat and endured the same hardships as the soldiers.
Caroline Toughill died on 14th November 1915 during the retreat when, after leaving the town of Raksha the vehicle she was travelling in went off the road – her car attempted to pass a lorry on a narrow road, the edge of the road gave way, and the car fell down a precipice. She was buried in a nearby village[5] in the graveyard of an old church. A wreath was improvised from moss and berries and her coffin was carried by relays of Serbian soldiers[6] – officers, soldiers and Austrian prisoners of war paid their respects and Orthodox priests conducted the burial service. In a way the place of her death was fitting as she had been moved by the beautiful scenery of the area and remarked “Oh to be allowed to rest forever on such a hill and to be alone with God.

[1] Eva Shaw McLaren A History of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals (reprint by General Books, Memphis, USA, 2012) (p.44)
[2] Francis, along with 50 others, was killed on 21st December 1916, while serving as a Midshipman on HMS Negro when it was severely damaged by depth charges which exploded after they broke loose from HMS Hoste which had accidentally rammed HMS Negro.
[3] The information concerning her early life has been gleaned from submissions to the Great War Forum (http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums).

[4] http://www.scarletfinders.co.uk/138.html

[5] Both Raksha and Leposavic are now in Kosovo.
[6] In about 1920, Caroline Toughill’s remains, along with the graves of Commonwealth servicemen in various parts of Macedonia and south Serbia, were moved to the British Military Cemetery in Skopje (now the capital of the Republic of Macedonia)

Many thanks to Stephen Mendes for compiling this article and for taking the photos at the grave in Skopje

Mary Moir Trail

Date of Bith: 1891
Place of Birth: Aberdeen

Mary Moir Trail was born in 1891 in the district of Old Machar,Aberdeen.She was the third child of Orkney born,Professor of Botany at Aberdeen,James William Helenius Trail and Aberdeen born Katherine Elizabeth Molligan.
1891 Census of Old Machar has the family living at 71,High Street.Six months old Mary was living there with her parents and elder siblings William Samual and Helen.The family employed three servants in the household.
1901 census has Mary(aged 10) still living at 71 High Street.Her father and brother William,were also present on that census night.
On 13/7/1920,Mary married A.Landsborough Thomson(A Government Official of Chelsea) at King’s College Chapel,Old Aberdeen.Mary had been living at home at 81,High Street at date of marriage.

Mary was still living on the High st Aberdeen when she joined the Scottish Women’s
Hospitals in May 1916 as an orderly. She worked at the beautiful Abbey at Royaumont under the command of the French war office. Royaumont was opened in 1915 and remained open till march 1919. Hundred’s of women Doctors, nurses and orderly’s worked their during those years. However Mary’s time there during the summer of 1916 was no place for the fainthearted, Royaumont was only 25 miles from the front line and it was common the hear the thunder from the cannons and no stranger to the horrors of war, but on July the 2nd all hell broke loose for the next 20 days Trains carried men to Royaumont like streams the SWH own 4 ambulances recovered over 100 men in the first 24 hours. The Somme had begun. For the next two months the unit and hospital would be tested in every way. Mary had a short spell at Royuamont, working as a cook during the summer of 1916. On her return to the uk she worked as a Lathe operator.at the Aeroplane Factory in Coventry.

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