Trip to Romania

It was an enormous privilege last week to be asked to attend Armistice day in Romania. The invitation and organisation of all the events were mainly down to the devotion of Cornelia Prioteasa. Cornelia was our host and guide and I can’t thank her enough for all she did and has achieved. I also extend my gratitude to the many Mayors, Government and local officials and to the Romanian Minister of Culture who funded the events and took great care of me during the five day visit.

Since the summer Cornelia and I have been collaborating to bring about an event that would explain the roll of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in Romania from 1916-1917 and the extreme and challenging conditions they endured. The opportunely to visit the impressive monument dedicated to Dr Elsie Inglis and the women who served on the Romanian front at Medgidia was of great interest to me. The laying of flowers at the Serbian Mausoleum, which is located directly across from the Scottish Women’s Hospitals monument, was moving for everyone involved. Thousands of Serbian soldiers lost their lives on the Romanian front and without the devotion and strong will of Dr Elsie Inglis and her hospitals the figure would have been much greater. At an exhibition earlier in the day, Romanians were able to glean through the many photos, documents and stories of how these remarkable women also nursed Romanian troops in horrendous circumstances. Over the following days we visited many of the locations where these hospital units worked during WW1, Cernavoda, Bul Bul Mic, Constanta, Braila and Galatz and of course Medgidia. A great thrill to have these names come alive after so many years of researching the story. Everywhere we went there was a warm welcome, tremendous hospitality and a hunger to know more on a story that clearly unites our nations. The plan is to do something next year and given the foundations are now in place, an annual event could be a great way of keeping the Romanian story alive while allowing friendships to develop and exchanging cultural and historical specifics that are to the benefit of us all.

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