We were very pleased to be asked by the people of the Tweeddale Museum in Peebles to look into the women from that part of the Scottish Borders that served in the SWH during WW1.
Our enquiries have found women from Peebles, Innerleithen and Walkerburn. Subject to finding out more information on these women it’s hoped that next year there will be enough information for an exhibition and a presentation by ourselves.
In the meantime here is a list of the women and if anyone has any information on any of the women please let us know.
Miss Elizabeth College, living at Sandridge Farm in Innerleithen, served as an orderly at Royaumont Abbey near Paris from September 1918- December 1918.
Jessie Margaret Gerrard, living at Stoneyhill Walkerburn, served as an orderly with the Girton and Newnham unit in Salonika and Belgrade in Serbia from August 1918- August 1919. In November 1919 she left Salonika for India where i understand she went to visit an aunt.
Nettie Jean Smith, living at Carnethy, Peebles, served as a Nurse at Salonika with the Girton NS Newnham unit between July 1916 – December 1916.
Madge Ramsay Smith, living in Peebles, served as secretary and administrator at Royau mont Abbey from May 1916- March 1919. Much of Madge’s story can be accessed by reading Antonio de Navarro’s book ‘The SWH at the French Abbey of Royaumont’. The Mitchell Library also has a fair amount on her.
Agneta Beauchamp, living and working at Dawyck Estate, worked as a commissioner with the SWH, never really a happy time for her doing that sort of work and while she was in Salonika joined the Red Cross. She later on went to work in Constantinople. She was awarded the OBE and the Croix de Guerre.
The Elsie Inglis headstone is situated in Edinburgh’s Dean Cemetery. The stone itself is now in a poor state of disrepair and over the last few years various attempts have been made to improve the situation. It’s been a frustrating time for all like minded people who want to see the stone restored to its former glory.
However a fantastic gesture has been made by Scotmid Co-operative Funeral Director’s who, at a cost to themselves, will bring in a stone mason to have the stone reinstated so that future generations can appreciate the memorial.
It is hoped the works will be completed by early January 2014 and we plan to hold an unveiling ceremony of the restored stone.
As part of our research into the role Highland women played in the Scottish Women’s Hospitals and also to prepare for forthcoming field trips to France and Serbia, I, with my dog, headed to the Isle Of Skye in the campervan.
On the drive up to Skye I took the opportunity to visit a couple of museums that might be interested in doing an exhibition on the SWH as part of there own local WW1 centenary plans. We should hear more from them in the next few months. I also visited the grave of Mary Drummond in the Appin churchyard, Mary served in Serbia in 1915. There’s more on Mary in the A-Z.
Having never been to Skye before I was instantly impressed by the scale of the landscape. It’s simply breathtaking. At this point in our research we have identified two ladies from Skye . Margaret Nicholson was born in Strolomus where her father had been a crofter. The plan was to locate the house but sadly it’s no longer in existence. Margaret’s details are also on the A-Z.
The next day i had a productive meeting with Lisa Falconer of the West Highland Free Press. Lisa agreed to carry the story of the SWH and in particular the significant contribution made by the women of the islands and the West Highlands. So far we have found around 10 women that came from the area. Her article will go to print in the next week of so.
One of the more interesting activities whist away was filming with Elly Welch from Mac TV. It’s certainly new territory for me!! The hope is to develop a documentary for television on the subject of the SWH. We had to start somewhere and Skye was perfect.
Next up was the impressive Broadford Hotel. Kevin the Manager was happy to welcome us and i explained to him that the purpose of our visit was to highlight the fact that Isobel Ross, who served as a cook with the American Unit in Ostrovo, (at that time part of Macedonia) was born and raised in the Hotel. Her father not only owned the Hotel but developed and sold the first bottle of Drambuie. Isobel, when she was young, would help put the labels on the bottles. For more reading on isobel i suggest getting Little Grey Partridge by Jess Dixon. We are working on doing a presentation on Isobel for the Hotel.
It was not only an enjoyable trip but a fairly fruitful one. It has certainly opened up a few doors for the project and given us some practical experience for the future.