From the Fringe of the North to the Balkans: The Balkans Viewed by Scottish Medical Women during World War I

Costel Coroban

Head of Department for Humanities and Social Studies, Cambridge International Examinations Center Constanta; Grigore Gafencu Research Center, Valahia University of Târgovişte; E-mail:

DOI number: 10.53604/rjbns.v4i1_4

This paper has been presented at the Third International Conference on Nordic and Baltic Studies: European networks: the Balkans, Scandinavia and the Baltic world in a time of economic and ideological crisis hosted by the Romanian Association for Baltic and Nordic Studies, Târgoviste, May 25-27, 2012.
Gathering materials for this research would not have been possible without the help of Dr. Harry T. Dickinson (Professor Emeritus at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh) and Dr. Jane McDermid (Senior Lecturer at the School of Humanities, University of Southampton). Also I must thank Mr. Robert Redfern-West (Director of Academica Press, LLC) and Dr. Vanessa Heggie (Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge). Not least, I must also mention the help provided by Mr. Benjamin Schemmel (editor of I am compelled to express my profound gratitude for their help.

This article is about the venture of the units of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals organization in the Balkans during World War I. It is important to note that these women, inspired by the ideals of equality and compassion, were not part of any governmental organization, as the British War Office refused to employ them, and thus acted entirely based on their ideals. The first unit to serve in the Balkans under Dr. Elsie Inglis was captured by the Central Powers on the invasion of Serbia, but would be later reorganized as the SWH London unit, and would travel to Romania and Russia together with its ambulance unit, in order to help the First Serbian Volunteer Division. After the unfortunate demise of Dr. Elsie Inglis on 26 November 1917 upon her arrival at Newcastle upon Tyne, the unit was renamed the “Dr. Elsie Inglis” unit, and travelled to Macedonia and Serbia in order to continue its relief work. Other units that served in Macedonia and Serbia since 1916 were the Girton and Newnham unit, the America Unit, their transport (ambulance) sub-units, and briefly Dr. Mary Blair’s unit. The SWH Committee in Edinburgh had the honourable initiative of crowning their efforts throughout the war by founding an “Elsie Inglis Memorial Hospital” in Belgrade during the spring of 1919, but this project would last only for a year.

Acest articol ilustrează misiunile unităţilor Spitalele Femeilor Scoţiene (SWH) în zona Balcanilor în timpul Primului Război Mondial. Este important de notat că aceste femei, inspirate de idealurile egalităţii de gen şi ale compasiunii deopotrivă, nu făceau parte din nicio organizaţie guvernamentală, după ce War Office-ul britanic refuzase să le angajeze, astfel că acestea au acţionat în mod categoric din propria lor iniţiativă. Prima lor unitate care a funcţionat în Balcani sub Dr. Elsie Inglis a fost capturată în timpul ocupării Serbiei de către Puterile Centrale, dar a fost mai târziu reorganizată ca unitatea londoneză a SWH, şi a călătorit în România şi Rusia împreună cu sub-unitatea sa de ambulanţe pentru a oferi ajutor Diviziei I de Voluntari Sârbi. După decesul regretabil al Dr. Elsie Inglis pe 26 noiembrie 1917, la o zi după întoarcerea la Newcastle upon Tyne, numele unităţii a fost schimbat în „unitatea Dr. Elsie Inglis,” călătorind apoi în Macedonia şi Serbia pentru a-şi continua acţiunile de binefacere. Alte unităţi care au slujit în Macedonia şi Serbia din 1916 au fost unităţile Girton şi Newnham, unitatea „America”, sub-unităţile lor de ambulanţe, şi pentru scurt timp, unitatea Dr. Mary Blair. Comitetul SWH din Edinburgh a avut iniţiativa onorabilă de a încorona eforturile lor în război prin înfiinţarea „Spitalului Memorial Dr. Elsie Inglis” în Belgrad în primăvara anului 1919, dar acest proiect a rezistat doar timp de un an de zile.

Keywords: Scottish Women’s Hospitals; Elsie Inglis; Serbia; Macedonia; Dobrogea; World War I
Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search