Friday, October 12, 2012

"Serbian mother from Scotland"- Dr. Elsie Inglis (1864-1917) by Z. Mikić

Elsie Inglis

"Serbian mother from Scotland"- Dr. Elsie Inglis (1864-1917)


Z. Mikić

Source: Medicinski fakultet Novi Sad


INTRODUCTION: 90 years ago, on November 26th, 1917, died Dr. Elsie Inglis, one of the greatest heroines of the First World War, founder and driving force of the famous "Scottish Women's Hospitals", and one of the most interesting persons in the history of medicine in general, and especially in Serbia where she and her hospitals were of the greatest help in the most difficult times.

CHILDHOOD AND EDUCATION: Elsie Maud Inglis was born in India in 1864, in a Scottish family which in 1878 moved back to Scotland where Elsie studied medicine and graduated from the Edinburgh University in 1899. Medical practice and Women's Movement (1894-1914) Dr. E. Inglis worked in Edinburgh, where in 1904. She opened a small hospital for women and children called "The Hospice", which was staffed only by women. She was also very active in the Women's Movement (the so-called suffragettes), fighting for the women's rights and for the Vote. From 1906 until 1914 she was Honorary Secretary of the Scottish Federation of Women's Suffrage Societies.

THE FIRST WORLD WAR-THE SCOTTISH WOMEN'S HOSPITALS: After the outbreak of the Great War in August, 1914. Dr. E. Inglis immediately organised, through her Federation, the so-called "Scottish Women's Hospitals" (SWH), on the whole 13 of them, which worked through the war in France, Belgium, Serbia, Greece (Macedonia), and Russia (Romania). SERBIA, 1915: In.January, 1915 the first Unit of the SWH arrived to Kragujevac, and.soon three more hospitals came to Serbian towns of Valjevo, Lazarevac and Mladenovac. In May 1915 Dr. E. Inglis herself came to Serbia. In October, 1915, when the great offensive of the Central Powers began, all these hospitals were evacuated to Krusevac, where they undertook the task of nursing 900 Serbian wounded at the "Csar Lazar" military hospital. Dr. Inglis and the majority of her staff refused to evacuate any further and stayed with their Serb patients. In November, 1915 they became prisoners of war, but continued to treat their patients until February, 1916 when they were repatriated. RUSSIA, 1916-1917: Back home, Dr. E. Inglis formed a new large SWH Unit, which, headed by herself sailed for Russia in August, 1916, and soon joined the so-called Yugoslav Volunteer Division, consisting mainly of Serbs, fighting on the Dobrudja front. After heavy losses and many retreats the remainder of this division, together with the SWH were evacuated back to England, to Newcastle, where Dr. E. Inglis, who was already seriously ill, died, on November 26th, 1917. She was later buried in Edinburgh, with full military honours.

EPILOGUE: High honours were bestowed posthumously on Dr. E. Inglis both by Great Britain and Serbia, and now, 90 years after her death, we should remember her with deep gratitude and respect for all she did for our people in the most difficult times of its history.


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