Women and the Military during World War One

Discussion in 'World War 1' started by liverpool annie, Dec 24, 2008.

  1. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Women in uniform were a novelty in 1914 and yet 80,000 women served in the forces as non-combatants during World War One. Discover how one exceptional Englishwoman answered the call to arms as a member of the Serbian army.

    By 12 August 1914, Englishwoman Flora Sandes knew that if she wanted an exciting life, she would have to fight for it. That was the date she steamed out of London, along with 36 other eager nurses, bound for Serbia. Within 18 months, during the great retreat to Albania, she had exchanged bandages for guns. She insisted on acting as a soldier, and being treated as such; therefore, like male combatants, she cared for the wounded, but only 'between shots'. She curtly informed one correspondent on 10 November 1916 that if people thought she ought to be a nurse instead of a soldier, they should be told that 'we have Red Cross men for first aid'. Her martial valour during World War One was recognised in June 1919 when a special Serbian Act of Parliament made her the first woman to be commissioned in the Serbian Army.

    'She insisted on acting as a soldier, and being treated as such...'

    This jolly, buxom daughter of a retired vicar living in the peaceful village of Thornton Heath in the Suffolk countryside was an unlikely candidate for the warrior role. Although she had been given elementary medical and military training in the Women's First Aid Yeomanry Corps and St John's Ambulance, she had no regrets about leaving nursing for the life of a combatant. Indeed, she relished those times when the savage explosion of her bombs was followed by a 'few groans and then silence' since a 'tremendous hullabaloo' signalled that she had inflicted 'only a few scratches, or the top of someone's finger... taken off'. Throughout her life, Sandes contended that her wartime experiences had been wonderful precisely because they were years of previously unimagined freedom.

  2. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    A woman who was executed during WWI was Edith Cavell - a nurse from England who was working in Belguim during the war. While not a spy, secretly she worked helping British, French, and Belgian soldiers to escape from behind the German lines and eventually rejoin their units. She housed as many as 35 refugees at once in the nursing school where she was the administrator. When the Germans occupied Belguim they converted Cavell's nursing home into a Red Cross hospital, and let her continue as Matron under German supervision. By 1915 she had helped more than 100 British and an additional 100 French and Belgian soldiers. but the Germans grew suspicious and arrested her in August. Her trial in October lasted only two days and resulted in a death sentence, in spite of appeals from both the American and Spanish ambassadors for clemency. On the morning of October 12th , 1915, Edith Cavell was executed by a German firing squad and buried nearby. Eventually her body was exhumed and returned to her native soil in Great Britain for reburial - you will find these words on her statue in St Martins Park - "'Humanity, Fortitude, Devotion, Sacrifice"



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  3. scrimnet

    scrimnet New Member

    From the AMS museum...

  4. scrimnet

    scrimnet New Member

    Also from the AMS museum...

    An original uniform...

  5. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Heres another snippet *

  6. liverpool annie

    liverpool annie New Member

    Picardy Heroine ....

    A young Frenchwoman called Marcelle Semmer was famous for her heroic action after the Battle of Charleroi, when the French troops tried to hold back the Germans on the Somme, but being few in numbers, had to retire across the canal at Eclusier. When they were safely across this young girl of 19, under fire from the enemy, opened the lock and then threw the key into the canal, thus preventing the Germand from crossing for nearly24 hours and making the retreat of the French possible. Marcelle was decorated with the War Cross and teh Cross of Legon of Honour.



    Scroll to the story of Marcelle Semmer


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