Elsie Knocker and Mairi ChisholmYears ago I read a book on the 1st World War published by the Imperial War Museum and in it was a chapter about two extraordinary women, Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm who worked at the Western Front all throughout the war. I wished at the time that I could find out more about them. Well, this past week I have started a fabulous new book about them called Elsie and Mairi Go To War by Diane Atkinson. I hadn't realized how exciting and brave these women really were. It seems before the war they were both avid motorcycle enthusiasts and participated in races. The author explains that back in the 1910's motorcycles were fickle, difficult creatures and that you would have to know how to fix and service them constantly if you drove them. Elsie was thirty, and Mairi eighteen at this time. And when war was declared in August 1914, they left almost immediately for Belgium and worked at the front lines bringing in wounded, serving them soup and cocoa, constantly risking their lives and living in great discomfort to bring relief to the soldiers. They were admirable women, and it is a rollicking, fascinating read so far.
There is an online exhibit of sorts at the Imperial War Museum:http://www.iwm.org.uk/server/show/ConWebDoc.2769