John Bellany Exhibition: Captain Flora Sandes: From Suffolk to the Trenches

The only western woman to go into battle as an enlisted soldier in the First World War, Flora Sandes from Suffolk became a heroine and a media sensation after she was wounded fighting in the Serbian Army. She rose rapidly through the ranks, was mentioned twice in despatches and was awarded the Star of Karadorde for bravery under fire, eventually becoming a Captain.

Flora was one of the hundreds of British women who flocked to Serbia in the early months of the war. Many worked under the auspices of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals, established in Edinburgh in 1914 by Dr Elsie Inglis. Desperate for competent help, the Serbs gave them freedom to work as they wished, often for the first time in their lives.

But of all the millions of Allied women who undertook some form of war work, only Flora was able to become a soldier. Louise Miller will examine how she managed to achieve this unique status by looking both at her upbringing and the extraordinary set of circumstances that arose in Serbia during the War.


The ‘John Bellany and the Scottish Women’s Hospitals’ exhibition takes place at the Scottish Parliament from 20 January to 16 April 2016 (closed 15-20 February and Sundays).

Tickets are FREE – see website, or call 0131 348 6933 for details and to book:


I am really looking forward to this talk.  Louise Miller is an inspiring and gifted speaker and author.  I certainly see her as the leading light on this and many other important subjects.