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Ceremony in Serbia to honour forgotten north heroine of war

 
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BerichtGeplaatst: 31 Jan 2009 22:14    Onderwerp: Ceremony in Serbia to honour forgotten north heroine of war Reageer met quote

Ceremony in Serbia to honour forgotten north heroine of war

Ceremony in Serbia to honour forgotten north heroine of war
doctor died while single-handedly running six typhus wards during ww 1

Published: 23/01/2009

Residents of a Serbian town will hold a ceremony to honour a forgotten Highland heroine next month.

Dr Elizabeth Macbean Ross, from Tain, died of typhus fever, a disease spread by lice, in 1915 while single-handedly running six typhus wards at a World War I military hospital in Kragujevac, 60 miles south of Belgrade.

The Serbian Red Cross, city authorities, the British and Canadian ambassadors and townspeople will hold the service around Dr Ross’s grave on February 14, the anniversary of her death which took place on her 37th birthday.

The annual event began in the 1980s and continued despite the Nato bombing of Serbia in the 1990s.

At least 23 British women, many of them Scottish, died in Serbia during World War I, and ceremonies are still held throughout Serbia in their memory.

Edinburgh-based Louise Miller, who learned about the life on Dr Ross while researching women’s medical and relief work in the Balkans, said Dr Ross was a “truly remarkable and spirited woman”.

She said: “When Dr Ross agreed to take on the typhus wards in Kragujevac, she knew it was a death sentence. There was a 75% chance you would die if you got it, so it was an extremely brave thing for her to do.

“Women weren’t allowed to work in the British Army field hospitals so, if female doctors wanted to contribute to the war effort, they had to go to places like Serbia or Russia. There really was a very high death rate.”

Born in 1878, Dr Ross was one of the first women to study medicine in Scotland and graduated from Glasgow’s Queen Margaret College in 1901.

She was employed as a medical officer on Colonsay before travelling to Persia, now Iran, to work among the people. While working in Persia she was taken hostage by brigands and was eventually freed following intervention by the British authorities.

During her career she became the first woman doctor to work on an ocean liner, travelling up the coast of India and Japan, and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine.

Her brother Captain Jim Macbean Ross was awarded the Military Cross in World War I, while her niece, Edith Ross, who still lives at Tain , was recently honoured by the British government for her work in the Land Army. The youth branch of the Red Cross in Kragujevac is named after Dr Ross, as is a street in the town. Dr Ross is also commemorated by a plaque in the St Duthus Church at Tain.

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