Elsie was born on the 16th August 1864 at Naini Tal in India. Her father John Forbes David Inglis was a chief commissioner in the Indian Civil Service. She was one of six siblings. Her father retired in 1876 and after a two year period in Tasmania, where two of her eldest brothers had settled, returned to Edinburgh.
Fortunately for Elsie her father considered education for his daughter just as important as for a son. It was in Edinburgh, and then Glasgow, that Elsie studied medicine, something that was unusual and difficult for a woman to achieve. However she passed the requisite exams in 1892 and took up the position of house surgeon at a new hospital for women in Euston Road London. She was also an ardent supporter of women’s suffrage.
Elsie returned to practice in Edinburgh and studied for further medical degrees at the University of Edinburgh graduating MB, CM in 1899. She now dedicated her life to her work, including the founding of a nursing home and maternity centre, and the suffrage movement.
When war broke out in 1914 Elsie visited the War Office to offer her services. At the time the war was perceived to be short affair, and consequently Elsie received the historic remark: ‘My dear lady go home and sit still’. The remark became famous amongst British nurses working in Serbia. Whilst working under terrible conditions they would ask as to what was their next task. The answer, received with much amusement, would be the famous remark. Elsie had been instrumental in setting up a fully equipped nursing unit for the Serbian Army.
In the spring of 1915, when the current head of the unit at Kraguievatz went down with diphtheria, that Elsie went to there to take over the unit. It was primarily involved with combating typhus, a decease which ravaged Serbia in 1915. Other Serbian hospitals were in a terrible condition and it would be Elsie that championed the need improvements. She would eventually gain ‘heroine’ status. She became the first woman to be awarded the Order of the White Eagle, Serbia’s highest honour.
As the Germans overran Serbia later in 1915 and personnel were encouraged to evacuate, Elsie refused to go. She and her unit were made prisoner and were eventually repatriated in 1916. She campaigned further and in 1917 was back with another unit treating Russian troops. After the Russian Revolution she and her team were evacuated home in November 1917. However, by now she was very ill suffering from cancer and died on the 26th November 1917. She is buried in Edinburgh.
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Alfred Martlew was a member of the No-Conscription Fellowship and the Independent Labour Party. He was uncompromising in his stance against the war but despite his protestations he was ordered to join the Non-Combatant Corps. He was one of the 16 men sent from Richmond to France in May 1916. After returning to England, Martlew was imprisoned at Winchester before being offered a place on the Home Office Scheme. This gave ‘genuine’ and ‘sincere’ conscientious objectors the opportunity to undertake civilian work under civilian control as an alternative to time in prison. Martlew worked in the quarry at Dyce Camp, spinning at Wakefield Work Centre, West Yorkshire, and tree felling in Dalswinton, Dumfries. But like many other conscientious objectors he questioned whether the work he was performing was still contributing, if indirectly, to the war effort. In 1917 Martlew went missing from his Home Office Scheme post and travelled to York where, before the war, he had been a ledger clerk at Rowntrees Cocoa works. There he met his fiancée, Annie Leeman. He gave her his money, watch and other possessions, and told her he intended to hand himself in to the police authorities. This was their last meeting. Just over a week later Martlew’s body was found in the River Ouse at Bishopthorpe. Although the inquest into his death returned the unresolved verdict of ‘found drowned’, the coroner thought it likely that he had taken his own life.
Alfred was born around June 1882 at Thornaby near Stockton, the son of Thomas Salmon, a foreman brewer. Alfred would eventually become an assistant grocer at Leyburn. Here he courted Lizzie Chiltern. Lizzie’s brother James had joined the West Yorkshire Regiment and was killed in June 1917 aged 20. It would appear that they never married as Alfred’s attestation form, when he signed up, has him as unmarried. The 1911 census has Alfred living in Leyburn as a boarder to a widow Catherine Pearson, aged 70. He enlisted on the 8th April 1916 at Leyburn joining the 5th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. By early 1917 Alfred had been wounded and was to spend the rest of 1917 and part of 1918 convalescing in England. He was discharged from the Army on the 15th April 1918, his rank being Lance Corporal. Alfred was now living in Waverley Terrace, Darlington. It was here that he died from pneumonia, exacerbated by his war wounds on the 16th February 1919 aged 36. Alfred was buried in Darlington West Cemetery.
Submitted by Jon Bemrose. Robert William Watson was the Fourth son of Alfred and Annie Watson, of 15, Ashville St., Bridlington. Before the outbreak of hostilities he was a fireman of the North Eastern Railway at Bridlington. 241608 Private Robert Watson served in the 5th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment and died on 28th October 1917 aged 21. His name is inscribed on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium and on the cenotaph in Bridlington.