Laura MacDonald of the Falkirk Community trust contacted us with regards to a Margaret Crowe, Margaret was born in Falkirk and served with SWH in Serbia during 1915. Laura is working on a project that will involve school kids from that area understand and remember the bravery and sacrifice of the local people that served during ww1.
Here is what we found on Margaret.
Served as a nurse in Mladenovac, Kraguevac and Kralievo in Serbia from the 1st of February 1915- November 1915, nursing the Serbian Troops often around the clock in desperate conditions, the soldiers at that point were suffering from exhaustion, starvation and frostbite. On top of that their were out breaks of typhus and diphtheria, it was often the case due the sheer numbers of soldiers coming in to the hospital that men often underwent amputations without any anesthetic. However the women were incredibly successful in the saving of lives and Margaret for her efforts not only as a nurse but also for her kindness was awarded the Serbian Cross of Mercy. By mid November 1915 Serbia could fight no more, out numbered by 10/1 and with very little ammunition left the decision was made to retreat. The retreat was to be know later as the Great Serbian Retreat and took men, women and children manly on foot in the dead of winter hundreds of miles down through Serbia and into Kosovo and over the Albanian and Montenegrin mountains and down the Adriatic sea, its estimated that some 200,000 men , women and children perished on the route. Margaret with her Chief Medical Officer Beatrice MacGregor in charge went on the retreat and tried to save as many lives as possible, sadly a Nurse Toughill was killed when the vehicle that Margaret was also in, rolled down an embankment. Margaret looked after her in the days before she died, she had lost a very dear friend. On arrival at Adriatic sea she boarded a ship for Brindisi Italy and from their came home via France. Margaret then went on to join and serve the rest of the war with The Russian Medical Relief Expedition.
A massive thanks to both James Blackburn and Chris Armstrong of Scotmid Co-operative who very kindly funded and carried out the restoration works of the headstone. Its fantastic to finally have Elsie’s stone in a condition that the nation can be proud of.
We were absolutely delighted to look into the women that served in the SWH that may have come from Dunoon. Our enquiries this far have discovered four women all living in the area. Subject to finding out more information on these women it’s hoped that next year there will be enough information for an exhibition at the Castle House Museum. 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.
Dorothea Jessie Balmain( Mrs kent), we have her living at Fountain Villa, Hunter st, Kirn. served with the SWH at Royaumont Abbey outside Paris, between November 1916-May 1917.
Isobel Dorothy Banks, we have her living at Redhill Dunnon, joined the SWH in June 1917 – november 1917 and worked there as a chauffeur( ambulance driver) we have found a really good photo of her working at Royaumont.
Helen Douglas Clarke, living at Kilhaws Toward, joined the SWH in july 1917- july 1918. Helen worked as a clerk at the hospital.
Margaret Berry, living at Englamere, Dunoon, served as a nurse with the SWH from april 1915-november 1915 in Valjevo in Serbia, Her CMO at that was Dr Alice Hutchison. Margaret went on the Serbian Retreat with a number of other women from the SWH.