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.
Explore more memories from the ribbon
Judith Farrah told us about her great-grandfather James Allen, who’s joinery business contributed to the war effort on the Home Front. “James Allen was born in 1855 in Newbiggin, Richmond. He was originally called James Thistlethwaite but changed his name to Allen, which was his stepfathers name. He apprenticed with William Raworth, learning to be a joiner, and married his daughter Matilda. By 1901 he had set up his own joinery business known as James Allen & Son Ltd and worked on the Kursaal (later known as The Royal Hall) in Harrogate.” During the First World War, James did not join the armed forces but used his joinery business to create boxes for munitions. Static trench warfare required huge numbers of shells; the First World War became a war of production. Hundreds of manufacturing companies, including James’, were commandeered for munitions production. As men were sent to the trenches, women moved into the factories. Some factories’ workforce was almost entirely female, and this was true for James’ business.
Captain Thomas Ernest Dufty 5th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment Captain Dufty was born in on the 30th of June 1880. His father was Arthur Richard Sykes Dufty and his mother was called Katie. He was educated at Pocklington Grammar School. He joined the 5th Battalion in 1912 and became a lieutenant in June 1913. Prior to this his profession was as a banker and manager of the Bridlington branch of the London Joint Stock Bank. Dufty was promoted to Captain on the 18th of April 1915. He was reported as killed in action on or about the 19th of May 1915 (killed by a shell). His Battalion had been deployed to Sanctuary Wood (1.9 miles east of Ypres). He left a widow, Beatrice, and a 4-year-old son Arthur Richard. He is buried at the Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery in Belgium and commemorated at the Manor Road Cemetery Scarborough.
Anthea Dunne dropped into the museum with a photo of her father (pictured in the centre of the group), and after a little research she has managed to piece together the story of his service during the First World War. William George Samuel Padden was my father from Pontnewydd, near Newport, Monmouthshire, he volunteered and enlisted at Carmarthen in west Wales on 9th October 1914, as part of The Pembrokeshire Yeomanry, the Territorial Force. As a Private in the Pembroke Yeomanry, he was given the regimental number 4390. Although not compelled to, he signed up as willing to serve overseas. He was transfered to 210 Company of the Machine Gun Corps (part of the 4th Dismounted Brigade) on 22nd October 1916 and given the new regimental number 74792. Initially a private in the Machine Gun Corps, he later became a corporal (29th May 1918). In April 1916 he sailed for Alexandria as part of the 4th Dismounted Brigade, fought in Egypt, stationed at Wadi El Natrun for 2 years. By 1917 this brigade had become part of The Welsh Regiment. By May 1918 he was fighting on the Western front in France. He was wounded on September 25th 1918 and sent home to a military hospital in Reading with a fractured right femur. He was finally discharged from hospital on May 3rd 1919 with a 40% degree of disablement and a pension of 12 shillings a week [with a temporary bonus of 20%]. He received a Silver War Badge in…