Sunday, March 30, 2014

Bad Ass War Women

Elsie Knocker (and how great is that name) and her bff Mairie Chisholm.  Even before World War I, they were kind of badass. They got to know each other through their hobby, stripping down and racing motorcycles in a culture where women riding bicycles was seen as scandalous.

When England entered the war in 1914, Knocker wrote to Chisholm that there was "work to be done." Chisholm hopped on her bike in in Dorset and popped off to London with the intent of being dispatch riders for the Women's Emergency Corps. Although initially the women were frustrated at not being allowed the front lines. While Chisholm was riding as a courier, she was spotted making hairpin turns around a city by Dr. Hector Munro. He was setting up a Flying Ambulance Corps to help the Belgians who had been caught in the German invasion. Munro invited the women to join his team.

Chisholm said, "Munro was deeply impressed with my ability to ride throught traffic. He traced me to the Women's Emergency Corps and said, 'Would you like to go out to Flanders?' and I say 'Yes, I'd love to'."

The women were stationed well behind the lines and quickly grew frustrated by the loss of life due to delayed treatment at the front. In November they left the corps and set up their own aid station right on the front lines in a little town called Pervyse. It was 100 yards from the trenches. They spent the next three and a half years tending to the wounded. Since they weren't affiliated with the Red Cross, they had to raise all their own funds - for bandages, food, etc.

They ended up saving thousands of lives and only stopped when forced to due to injuries suffered in a gas attack.

Yo, WW2?  Elsie and Mairie called.  What’s all this rot about the “greatest’ generation?  (That’s right!  I just did a women in war sacrifice throw down.)

1 comment:

  1. What a delicious historical tidbit! Girl power!