Today is Remembrance Day, a day in which we remember all of the wars and those who fought/contributed, but most specifically the end of The Great War on November 11, 1918. It seems so long ago, but not even a century has passed since that day. There are many other wars that have occurred since that day, but today I am going to tell you the story of three women who made their mark during the Great War and became an inspiration to women and the world.
Milunka Savic is a bit like a modern Mulan. She was born in Serbia and when her brother was drafted into the Balkan Wars she took his place. She was elevated to corporal and received a medal before it was discovered she was female, and only then because she had to be treated for injuries. It seems she was so talented that they decided not to kick her out of the army. The Great War followed quickly on the tail of the Second Balkan War and Milunka joined battle again. She was decorated with medals and elevated to Sergeant. She was ridiculously skilled and even captured 23 Bulgarians all on her own. When Serbia lost traction in the war she fought for the French instead. When World War 2 rolled around she was imprisoned in a concentration camp, but eventually released. Her efforts in WW1 were rewarded with the French Legion d’Honneur, the Russian Cross of St. George, the British medal of the Most Distinguished Order of St. MIchael and the Serbian Milos Obilic medal. She was also the only woman awarded the French Croix de Guerre during the Great War.
Katharine Furse was the founder of the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD), which was eventually recognized by the Red Cross and helped to bring much needed nurses to the front to deal with casualties. Under her leadership the number of women involved in the VAD swelled to 90,000. She was also offered the position of Director of the Women’s Royal Naval Service. She was also made a Dame by the Queen and spent 10 years as the Director of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
Elsie Inglis was a doctor, suffragist and founder of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals. She was already incredibly accomplished prior to the outbreak of the Great War. She helped set up the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service Committee and provided much of the female staff or the allied hospitals. She went to Serbia where she worked at reducing the epidemics flooding through the hospitals and encampments. She also organized a hospital initiative to be sent to Russia and accompanied it in 1916. She was a POW for a while before the USA negotiated her release. She served the war effort until her death in 1917 due to cancer.
Today is a day to honor though who have served their countries and I salute those who have, past and present.
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