from the magazine "T.P.'s Great Deeds of the Great War", November 21, 1914
'Women in the War'

The Fair Sex in the World War

left - women factory workers
right - women enlisting in service


Heroic and Devoted Service

When the last day of this great war has come; when the final audit of its vast account, of its profits and its losses, has been cast; when the balance of its triumphs and its terrors, its miseries, its pain, its courage, its horrors, its splendours, its heroism, its bestiality and its sublimity, has been well and truly struck - at that great and fateful day it will assuredly be found that the folios shining out of this huge book of battling with a glory and a glow beyond all human imagining will be those dealing with the deeds of women in the war.


French ladies in goverment service during the war


The Woman's Part

It is not that in this war of men and of principles women have played their part, and more than their part, with staunchness and with valour. It is not that at every point where women can work and help, women of all grades and all social conditions from Royalty downwards have worked and helped. It is not that women, as ever, have shown to peculiar perfection in the great and tender works of mercy; in nursing the sick, in caring for the homeless, in feeding the starving, in comforting the sad and the lonely. It is not merely that they have done these things with the tenderness and thoroughness of their eternal habit, but that they have come into contact with war in a way more intimate and actual than they have ever done before. They have not merely stayed at home to nurse and weep and pray. They have been at the backs of the fighting men, they have urged them on, they have crept up close to the fighting line, into the very fighting line, and sometimes they have fought.

Women in the Trenches

One of the most moving pictures of the battling in Belgium is that picture, homely, moving, and inspiring, of the brave men fighting in the trenches, and their wives and families coming out in the lulls between the attacks to visit and sit with them:

You cannot go a mile (said a writer in the Daily Telegraph during the early days of the war) outside Brussels in either a southerly or south- easterly or north-easterly direction without finding all the roads guarded and strongly entrenched on either side. Women trudge miles and miles with baskets of provisions looking for their husbands, sons, and brothers in the trenches, and here and there you see family parties sitting on the newly turned earth at the bottom of the trenches - father, mother, and children, some in arms, talking earnestly to each other, and eating the scant provisions they have brought to their men-folk guarding their beloved country.

During the battle of Mons, too, there are stories of how the women and girls, proud to help their defenders, came right into the trenches under fire to give the soldiers food, fruit, and drink during that exacting time. One of these girls, a soldier states, was no more than seventeen, yet she faced the noise of battle and the danger of bullets quite undismayed as long as she could do something for the brave men fighting the great battle for European liberty.

An Old Woman's Search

There is a touching tale, too, of how an old woman went through the dangers of the firing line, seeking for her fighting son. The Giornalia d'Italia publishes the story. It relates that on the eve of the fall of Antwerp an old woman, aged seventy, arrived at the advance posts and said she had come on foot from Liege amidst a storm of bullets, as she wished to see her son, who was orderly to General Leman, the defender of Liege, and who, after the fall of the last fort, when he thought his master was dead, retired to Antwerp. A few minutes later the old woman was weeping in the arms of her son.

Brave son and brave mother, both are worthy of the race that Imperial Caesar praised for the valour of its spirit.

In the Firing Line

But it is not only to succour and to stimulate their men that the women of to-day are making a way into the trenches. The women are burning to fight, too. The story has already been told of how a work- girl of France donned uniform and fought as a man in several battles and won her wounds. In England, too, we have women who are as anxious to emulate that determined spirit:

I feel it my duty to write to you (said Miss Frances Phillips, of Manchester, in a letter to the recruiting officer). I am twenty years of age, and 5 ft. 8 in. in height. I am quite strong and healthy; I have never been ill in my life. I have never had a doctor, and I think I would have the pluck to join the army. My parents are willing for me to enlist, and I would be in my glory if I could join Lord Kitchener's Army.

Do you know, when I read the paper and see how our soldiers are fighting, I feel a coward staying at home. Surely I have got hands and strength to help to fight for my country. I would even cut my hair off and put all my affairs on one side if you would only give me a chance. When you have read this letter do not throw it away and laugh at it, for I am writing seriously.

"Surely I have got hands and strength to help to fight for my country!" Could aught be more moving and valorous than that plain, that splendid sentence?


left - female warriors on the Western Front
right - on the Eastern Front


Women who Fight as Men

These stories of brave women are repeated all over the scheme of the battlefields. In Russia the girls are helping to dig the trenches, and sometimes they are among the regiments that fight in them. The Daily Call tells us something about their exploits :

Women and girls in large numbers are trying to enter the army under various disguises and pretexts. The Imperial Government is strongly against such feminine militancy, and at once sends female volunteers back to their homes. Nevertheless the attempts continue, and several women have already succeeded in deceiving the military authorities.

The most successful have been the masculine-looking peasant women of the northern provinces. Amongst them is Nadezhda Ornatsky, a thick-set, well-educated peasant woman from the province of Archangel. She posed as a man through the second part of the Manchurian campaign, and was praised for her courage by General Grippenberg. She fought in September in South Poland, and it was not until after the battle of Lublin-Krasnik that her sex was discovered.

A girl named Liuba Uglicki was present at four engagements in East Prussia and West Poland, and has been wounded slightly. She says that during the long-range fighting she had no fear, but had a horror of crossing bayonets with the enemy.

Two daughters of a landed proprietor at Kursk have been arrested on their way to join the colours, one of them posing as "Prince Adrianoff," and the other as her servant.

A peasant woman who was killed at Cumbinnen had donned her husband's clothes and impersonated him, as he had shirked the summons. She did not want her family to be shamed.

The Woman who Stayed Behind

Still, it is not alone on the trenched field that the spirit and the courage of the modern woman is showing. In spheres more natural to them they are proving themselves staunch with the highest intrepidity. There is, for instance, the story of Madame Macherez, wife of a former Senator of the Aisne, who stepped into the place of the Mayor of Soissons when that gentleman left with the other fugitives.

Madame Macherez has fulfilled her duties with the greatest success. She took charge of the police, the fire station, the hospitals, and, with the aid of the Bishop of Soissons, she has managed to run the town, both during the German occupation and afterwards. Twice over the town was traversed by the German legions - once before and once after the battle of the Marne. Their first requisition was for 70,000 kilos of oats, 70,000 kilos of food (hams, preserved meats, smoked sausages, and preserved fish), and 20,000 kilos of tobacco and cigars. The governess of the town was told that it would be burnt if these goods were not forthcoming.

Madame Macherez bluntly told the Prussians that they might as well ask for the sun and the moon, for it would be impossible for the town to supply anything like the quantities asked for.

Her courage had its reward, and it was not from the Germans but from battle that Soissons suffered.

At Their Posts Under Fire

From the wife of a Senator to a telephone-girl is, perhaps, a step, but it is a step in a social grade, not in courage and devotion. Of the many splendid deeds done in this war of much heroism, the heroic deed recorded by Mr. Frank Hillier of the telephone-girls of Louvain who stuck to their post in spite of the shells falling about them will rank forever glorious :

These two, Valerie di Martinelli and Leonie van Lint, were on duty at the switchboard when Louvain's day of terror began. Nearer and nearer came the thunder of the German guns. Shells began to burst on the outskirts of the town, then in the town itself. Soon the shrapnel bullets rained round the building in which they sat. Flames began to crackle and leap among the houses. They stayed at their post. They knew that along the lines which they were serving were passing the orders of the Belgian staff directing the safe retreat of the army, and that if they failed confusion and disaster would almost certainly follow.

It was only when they could do no more good, when the wires had been cut or carried away by shells, and the building threatened to collapse, that the little "demoiselles du telephone" thought of their own safety. Everybody else had long since fled in panic, and the mitrailleuse bullets were spattering all round as the two brave girls crept away, and it is good to hear that both survive. Brave as the Belgian men are, they cannot surpass their women.


left - Emilienne Moreau - decorated for bravery under fire by France and Great Britain
right - Emilienne Moreau and other decorated French women


"So Much Gained for France"

And, again, another splendid story of a Frenchwoman's pluck is told by a soldier wounded and in hiding from the Germans in the early days of the invasion :

We had a bad time of it, as there was very little food. The Germans had seized everything for themselves. However, one of the Red Cross nurses stuck by us heroically, and she certainly deserves the cross of the Legion of Honour. She stole food from the enemy, sometimes flour, sometimes rice, sometimes haricot beans, enough to keep us alive. But that was not the only thing she did. She knew that we all of us would much rather be shot than be left as prisoners in the enemy's hands, though nearly all of us had families. Besides, she was a patriot, and said: "If only you can get away, you will be able 'to go on fighting against the Germans, and that is so much gained for France." So she set to work, .and. at last she succeeded in collecting civilian clothes for the 108 of us Who were well enough to escape. We put them on, and one by one, with our hands in our pockets, trying to look as unconcerned as possible, we sauntered right past the General and his staff in the Market Place and got out of the town. By some extraordinary chance none of us was detected.

Saving a Flag

And, finally, in this little gallery of brave women we can set up this stirring picture of a woman who saved the flag of a Russian regiment. Here it is:

Half a dozen Sisters of Mercy have arrived at Petrograd after a three weeks' journey from captivity in Germany. They were taken prisoners with all their wounded in a field hospital during the earlier fighting in East Prussia. Among the wounded was a soldier of a certain foot regiment who along with these Sisters was sent back from the front to the neighbourhood of Berlin. The Germans made Russian wounded early convalescents, sending them as prisoners of war to a fortress.

One of the convalescents, before being taken away, contrived to speak secretly with one of the Sisters, and confided to her that he had with him - so well concealed that the Germans had not found it - the standard of his regiment, which he had torn from its staff at a critical moment and hidden away. He conjured the Sister, if ever she had an opportunity, to convey the sacred relic of his regiment into the hands of the Emperor, or, failing that, to destroy it.

The Sister, with others, when her own wounded had recovered, offered to assist in the German hospitals, but her German colleagues demurred, and after much correspondence among various German authorities, it was decided that these Sisters might return to Russia. The one who has saved the standard of the regiment is awaiting a summons to the Emperor to deliver into his Majesty's own hands a battle relic which she refuses to part with to anyone of lesser dignity.



from the magazine "T.P.'s Great Deeds of the Great War", December 26, 1914
'The Light from the Lamp'



Women at the Front

Since those drab and gloomy days of an unlovely war, in which disease was a mightier general than it is in our own hygienic times, since those days when, through hospitals that were foul and in conditions that were unspeakable, there passed amid the shattered human wreckage of war a woman with a lamp, there has been burning in the heart of all womankind, in a flame of fire, a passionate desire for service in war.

The Path of the Lamp

It was and is not a new desire. Women have always served. Women, with their invincible and holy patience, have given their sons and husbands to war, have prayed for them, have worked for them, have sat lonely and wept for them, have nursed, have healed them, and, when the dread moment came, have quietly and with heroic resignation honoured their graves. It was everything to do this, and yet it was not enough. When that saintly woman with a lamp passed through the reeking hospitals of the East, the shining of her light showed to women yet further efforts they might make, yet further tasks they might take up. Where Florence Nightingale shone her path of light other women followed. And to-day other women are following. Woman, with her healing hands, has gone to the fields of battle, she has gone out into the terror and the danger of the fight to snatch lives from the trenches, to save, with her especial gifts and skill, more lives than have ever been saved before.

They Accept the Risks

They are not flinching, these heroic women. They do all, and more than all, asked of them. They are not seeking special comforts, for immunity, or for protection. They are fighting wounds and disease in the same sphere that the men fight battles; they are moving with men amid bullets and amid shells, and with the men they gladly accept the risks. They are right up to the firing line, healing where the bullet is wounding and killing. Sometimes they are regular nurses, sometimes they have fitted or helped to fit out the private ambulance units in which they serve out of their own pocket.

In Antwerp, during the siege and bombardment, there were two such women, sisters:

They had come out (says the Standard) with a cart full of hospital equipment and stores and four hunters to join a hospital in Belgium. They had also bought an ambulance car, but it was not ready, and they had left with their cart and horses. They almost exclusively tended Belgians, and could not speak too highly of the fine character of these men — their patience, good spirits, and splendid courage.

These two young women had only had a week's training as nurses, but must have been exceptionally endowed by nature with iron nerve. It often happened that there was no time to give anaesthetics, and all that could be done was to hold the patient's hand under the most excruciating operations. The men would only crush it harder and harder, but never uttered a cry or moan.

Women in Breeches and Great Boots

These two women are not exceptions, and their courage is not exceptional. There is a healing legion of such women scattered over the battle area. Women form part of the British ambulance unit under Dr. Hector Munro, at Furnes, on the Belgian coast, and in the Daily Express a prominent K.C. and M.P., who went on one of their expeditions, has described the conditions under which they work and live :

We were actually under heavy fire when we reached the vicinity of Nieuport. Shrapnel was bursting all round our car, striking objects near us and whistling past overhead.

These women, in breeches and great boots, went about their tasks with the equanimity one would associate with an afternoon drive in the park. They do not wait until the firing ceases or work on the fringe of it; they walk about among the great holes which the shells have driven into the ground, seeking and caring for their wounded with as much ease as if taking tea in their own Mayfair drawing-rooms.

Those are the conditions of existence, desperate and dangerous enough indeed; but there are times when it is yet more dangerously desperate. The report continues:

On Sunday some of the ladies went to Nieuport again to rescue an old woman and her husband, both over eighty, who, with a companion and a dog, had been hiding for weeks in a cellar there.

Penetrating the fire of German artillery, they reached their destination, but before taking their party to Furnes it was necessary to go to a house some little distance away to get papers for them.

As they arrived at this place, where, underground, the officials were quartered who could give them the documents, a shell came into the very next house and shattered it to atoms. The air was filled with flying débris, but the ladies proceeded with their business, secured the papers, collected the two octogenarians, their companion, and their dog, and took them back to Furnes.

"Cave Dwellers"

The modern ladies of the lamp follow in the steps of their wondrous forerunner. It is not only the dangers of the battle area they accept with a smiling spirit, they accept all its ugly sights, its dirt, its privations, and its sheer bodily discomforts. The picture of the life of the ladies at Furnes is amplified:

While these wonderful women were engaged in this adventure — no more thrilling than dozens of others which they have met on the battlefield — our informant set out with Dr. Hector Munro to visit "the cave-dwellers of Pervyse."

The "cave-dwellers" are three ladies of Dr. Munro's unit, who for many weeks have made their headquarters in a cellar, whence they sally forth from time to time to take cigarettes and cocoa to wounded soldiers, to dress their wounds, and convey them to a place of safety. Here, too, they are often under fire.

Lady Dorothy Feilding

Of this little company is Lady Dorothy Feilding, of whose splendid work much has been written. Too much to be described adequately here. But there is a little vignette of her at work that shows in a flash all she is doing. It is contained in a letter from Corporal S. J. Carter, R.A.M.C, to his brother, Captain J. R. Carter, the master of the King's yacht Britannia:

"We have been in the fiercest fighting, and so know some of the horrors of war. Our duties are to tend the British troops, but, of course, no wounded, whether German or otherwise, are passed by. Whilst some of the fierce fighting was going on I, with other stretcher- bearers, was out collecting wounded, and at a small dressing station we were assisted by a British lady, whom, no doubt, you will know — Lady Dorothy Feilding, the daughter of the Earl of Denbigh. She was not at a base, but at a small cottage with her motor ambulance, with shells flying around, and she did some excellent work in transporting sick to hospital."

In the Trenches

They are unstinted in service, these women, and they are as cool and daring as they are clever and tender and self-sacrificing. Miss Jessica Borthwick, who is a niece of the late Lord Glenesk, has thrown herself unsparingly into ambulance work and the organisation of ambulance work. She has worked under conditions that would make the stoutest heart draw back, and she has suffered as the fighting man has suffered:

At Oudecappelle on the 2nd inst. Miss Borthwick was slightly wounded by a shell. "We had been sent for in case we were needed" (she said),, "and about two in the afternoon, when standing near a house, a shell came and shattered the whole place to the ground. I saw the arm of a lieutenant with whom I was talking completely shot away, and was conscious of nothing else but the avalanche of débris. Once when our ambulance was nearer Nieuport a Taube dropped a bomb right on top. The same night after the shell burst at Oudecappelle we were at Dixmude. In some of the cellars that were not choked were German soldiers, who fired on us as we rushed through with stretchers, etc. From the other side we got out to the trenches. It was a full moon, and the country is flat, with very few trees left standing, most having been cut down for fuel. So we had to lie flat and crawl along till we got to the trenches. The rifle firing was incessant, but we picked out men it was possible to move. That night, too, we had to burn piles of the German dead, for they had been throwing them in the river and spoiling the water."

The Woman Corporal

These brave deeds that fire our hearts have fired the hearts of the men for whom they are done. In a wave of admiration the Belgians have honoured Miss Borthwick:

She has been made a corporal by the Colonel of the Carabiniers, another corporal cutting off the stripes from his own coat to give to this fearless ambulance worker, who has had some most thrilling experiences.

Courageous, unflinching under conditions that must have an awful effect on their more susceptible minds, patient and enduring, the women in the field are yet proving their splendid worth. From the blazing city of Antwerp and the shells that plunged into it the women rescued many men:

Lady Guernsey, whose gallant husband, the former A.D.C. to the Governor of Gibraltar, was recently killed in battle, has placed her beautiful French place, Château Tournaville, near Cherbourg, at the disposal of Mrs. St. Clair Stobart, as a war hospital (says a correspondent), and has herself volunteered as a nurse.

While endeavouring to get to Holland from Brussels, Mrs. Stobart was imprisoned by the Germans, and searched six times, only just escaping being shot as a spy.

Yet she went back to Antwerp, and nursed the wounded amid a rain of shells, which fell on all sides of the hospital.

When this fire endangered the lives of her ninety odd patients, Mrs. Stobart and her assistants, who included Miss S. Macnaughten, the novelist, carried their charges down into the cellars on their backs, and the twenty women eventually rode out of Antwerp, through blazing streets, in London General omnibuses laden with ammunition and driven by British "Tommies," and across the bridge over the Scheldt just before it was blown up.

And the splendid story of their deeds is repeated from every battlefield; the Russian Red Cross workers are just as devoted:

Deeds of splendid heroism done by these women are being reported from the eastern war zone to-day. One nurse carried off a wounded soldier herself from the firing line. The doctors and nurses carry out their duties with a spirit of self-sacrifice that is akin to missionary devotion.

They Share Death

They share the dangers and the terror and strain with the fighting men they succour, these brave women; and, if need be, they share death.

The municipality of Le Mans has granted the British Army the concession of a cemetery where soldiers dying in hospital may be buried. Their graves will be marked by flags, carefully tended, and fresh flowers will be placed on them every week.

In one of the newest tombs lies an English girl, Miss Bell, aged nineteen, who, while tending the wounded in the firing line, had both her legs broken by a splinter from a shell. She was taken to the British hospital at Le Mans, where she succumbed to her wounds.

The Sort of Women There are in Belgium

Even those women who do not nurse, who cannot tend the wounded or drag shattered men from the firing line, are anxious to serve and to help. There are numberless accounts of women who have helped with comfort and with food, who gave drink to the thirsty men. The Belgian and French women have risked their lives in this form of service.

The pluckiest action I ever witnessed was at Mons (wrote a soldier). The soldiers were crouched under a big wall in one of the main streets, and the shells of the German guns were ripping the houses down, when suddenly a woman and a little boy appeared, having two large jugs of coffee for the "soldats." The woman passed up and down the line three times in succession with coffee and bread and butter, and all the time the shells were screaming overhead, but she took not the slightest notice. While she was serving the coffee three shells struck her house, and all she had left in the world were two coffee jugs and six little basins. But she did not mind. This is the sort of women there are in Belgium — as brave as can be.

Sixteen and in the Firing Line

Grown women and young girls, theirs is an invincible devotion. Again the story of their quiet courage appears :

A pretty story of a sixteen-year-old French girl's bravery is told by Corporal S. Healy, of the Royal Irish Regiment It was after one of the hardest fights along the Aisne, and dozens of the British wounded were left lying out in the open after the battle, with little prospect of relief until the next day. Most of the poor fellows were nearly mad with thirst. Many were delirious, and others were just sensible enough to keep murmuring for water. "Then we heard a gentle footfall," the corporal added, “and, looking up, we saw a charming girl of about sixteen picking her way through the piles of dead and wounded. She had brought us goat's milk and wine to relieve our thirst."

The Woman with the Lamp Still Passes

No wonder the soldiers bless these women ! No wonder they are stricken with grief when the women suffer ! The girl who came to the wounded was herself hit:

We learned that she was from a farm near by, just out of the line of fire, and she had risked her life in coming there to give us something to drink because she was grateful to the British troops for helping to drive the German invaders back. She seemed to be without fear, and tripped briskly along in spite of the shells and rifle fire. We were all stricken with grief when she was carried into hospital next day. She had been shot on the way back. It was a nasty wound, but after an operation the doctors hoped she would pull through. Every soldier who saw her prays for her every night.

They pray for these dear, brave women, the soldiers, as the wounded in the hospitals of Scutari turned and kissed the flitting shadow and prayed when Florence Nightingale passed by.

For the woman with the lamp still passes. Age has not altered her, new times and newer conditions have not tarnished the splendid gold of her invincible charity, nor chilled the warmth of her feeling and her sympathy. As of old, the cry of the wounded calls across the stricken fields to her heart, and she must go out to the wounds and the wounded to mend the broken bodies, to soothe the dying minds. The woman of the lamp still passes. Her good has not diminished. It has become more active; her scope has broadened, she has emancipated herself to the dangers and the terrors of the firing line. But the lamp still shines, and the heart of the woman still burns with the holy and divine fires of healing. Florence Nightingale still walks amid the smitten men in the packed wards of the War.

W. D. N.


from the magazine "T.P.'s Great Deeds of the Great War", January 9, 1915

'The Race of Heroines'


left - a Russian female soldier
right : a Serb female warrior


Women as Soldiers

Not to men alone go the glories and the honours of this War, not for men alone are the trials and the wounds, the dangers, the deaths, and the grinding fatigues of the marching column, the rain-drenched camp, and the shell-seared firing line. The women are demanding their share of battles, the women are taking up the rifle, the women, too, are out to war. In the fighting line they are fighting, under the beat of shell fire they are risking their lives with the high, strong courage of the bravest soldiers, behind the firing line they are serving their homeland with a valour that smiles at death, with an endurance that scorns fatigue. They are taking their places in the long and tortured wards of the wounded as of old, but they are doing more than that. They are taking their stand shoulder to shoulder with fighting men. The Amazon spirit has reawakened. Through the smoke of the fighting Boadicea drives her chariot again against the massed ranks of her foes.

A Spirit Invincible and Undismayed

In the pages of this paper instances have already been given of the way women have fought as the best of men fight. But the instances multiply. They grow in number as they grow even more quickening, even more stirring, while the dreary days of the War lengthen out. Story after story starts from the printed pages as the pageant of the War is reviewed daily in the press. In all the branches of battle and of courage, from the rifle-parapet to the control levers of an aeroplane, from the range-directing telephone to the self-sacrifice and fortitude and valour that might lead, and sometimes does lead, to a spy's ignominious death before the rifles of a firing squad, women have faced War in all its sternness, have faced death with all its bitterness with a spirit invincible and undismayed. The Russian papers tell us of a woman, a Princess Shakhovskaya, who, after innumerable rebuffs, has at last been accepted as an aviator, and has been commissioned for service in war. She was told that the enemy might declare that a woman was not entitled to the rights of a soldier of the regular army; the dangers that awaited her capture were pointed out to her. She was not dismayed. She had the gift of skill in aviation, she wanted to use that gift for the benefit of Russia, so she persisted in offering herself, and she was accepted.

The Honour of the Flag

Women of our own race, too, have shown themselves dauntless in the face of the terrors of war:

When De Wet occupied Winburg (relates the Daily Call), some of his men hauled down the Union Jack over the court-house and trampled it in the dust. A young lady, Mrs. Pienaar, snatched the flag from the ground and bound it round her waist like a sash, saying: "For the present I carry it with me, and you dare not touch me. When decent people return we will hoist it again." The rebels abused her, but did not touch either her or the flag, which was hoisted again when General Botha reoccupied the town.

"Take Me!"

Almost daily France is adding immortal sisters to the immortal women of her history, and one of these new heroines of a race rich in heroines is Marie Masson. In the Daily News and Leader Mr. Cozens- Hardy tells the story of the splendour of her sacrifice. She belonged to a village whose inhabitants, not being soldiers, had rashly resisted the German advance. The Germans were driven off, but they came back.

They returned on November 9th, drove all of us into the church (said Mr. Cozens-Hardy's informant), and an officer, standing by the altar, announced in guttural French that the village was to be punished. "A woman," said he, "betrayed us by telling us there were no French troops in the place, whereas the houses must have been full of them; if she doesn't confess we shall kill every inhabitant." Groans filled the church. Several persons cried out that if their "pitous" were in the village they certainly were not hiding in the houses. The officer wouldn't believe them, and proceeded to announce that as an example and a warning he would have a man and a woman shot in the presence of the population.

At this point up stepped Madame Marie Masson, twenty-eight years old, who has a husband and two brothers with the colours, and facing the German officer and the altar said, "There were no French in the houses, but here am I, take me, and do your worst." The German soldiers thereupon seized her and an old man who stood by her. Everybody was ordered out of church. The couple were marched and placed against a wall, while the German troops surrounded the inhabitants and compelled them to witness the double execution.

The German officer in a loud voice asked if the father and mother of the young woman were in the crowd. They came forward and were forced to remain in the forefront of the populace so that they might miss nothing of their daughter's last moments. Eight constituted the firing party, and in all sixteen shots were fired. The pair died, unbandaged, facing death without flinching.

Serving the Gunners

In Belgium, too, the race of great women endures. The valorous daughters of that valorous people are peers with the bravest of the men. They can face the dangers of war, go out to meet them even with an unflinching mien. The story has been told of how two telephone girls of Louvain served the military authorities and their country under shell fire. We can put beside those girls in the niche of fame yet another girl who used the telephone for her country's good. In the Saturday Evening Post, the American journalist, Mr. Cobb, says:

I am going to repeat a story that was told to me by one of the leading physicians of Aix-la-Chapelle, who, when I saw him, had abandoned his practice to manage a lazaret of German and French wounded. During the investment and bombardment of the Liege defences a battery of German siege guns was mounted in the village of Dolhain. From the accuracy with which shots from the Liege forts fell among them the Germans speedily became convinced that some one in the village was secretly communicating with the defending fortresses, telling the gunners there when a shell overshot the German lines or fell short. A local physician was caught in the act of sending carrier pigeons to Liege with advice for the better handling of the Belgian guns. The Germans shot him in his house among his pigeons. Nevertheless, the Belgian fire continued to be marvellously fatal. Then another discovery was made. A young girl, the daughter of a well-to-do citizen, was using a telephone that through some oversight the Germans had failed to destroy. From the window of her father's house she watched the effect of the Belgian shells, and after each discharge she would call the fort in Liege and direct the batteries there how to aim the next time.

The Penalty

She risked her life indeed, but she knew her risk, and gladly accepted the penalty. Mr. Cobb continues:

She was detected, tried by court-martial, convicted of violating the articles of warfare by giving aid to the enemy, and condemned to be shot. Next morning this girl, blindfolded and with her arms bound' behind her, faced a firing squad. As I conceived it, no more heroic figure will be produced in this war than that Belgian girl, whose name the world may never know.

"I do not know how the American people will view the execution of military law on that brave young woman," said my informant. "I do know that the officers who tried her sorely regretted that, under their oaths to do their duty without being influenced by sentiment or by their natural sympathies, they sentenced her to death. They could do nothing else. She had been instrumental in causing the killing and wounding of many of our men. By the rules of war she had risked her life, and she lost it. Our troops had killed the man who used the carrier pigeons. They had no right and no power to spare the girl who, over the telephone, directed the fire of our enemies. But if I were a Belgian I would give my last cent to rear a monument to her memory."

The Woman who Commanded a Platoon

In these stories women, and the courage of women, have but indirectly fronted the dangers and deaths of war, but there are many other instances of the valour of women doing more than this. They have become active in war. They have shouldered the rifle, donned a private's uniform, and fought in the battle-ranks of armies. There are cases of these spirited women and their fighting in all countries, in France, Belgium, Serbia and Germany; but it is in Russia that women get their greatest chances of joining the ranks, for in Russia, with its vast area and its teeming millions, it is easier for a woman to escape the vigilance of the recruiting officer than in the countries of the West. Russia, indeed, is quick with heroines. One of them fought her way up to commission rank. Here is the story from the Daily Chronicle :

Another instance of a woman serving as a soldier at the front has just become known. Mile. Tomilovsky, the twenty-one-year-old daughter of a colonel at the front, is, it is stated, now in hospital here suffering from severe contusions. She accompanied her father to the war with her hair cut short and wearing uniform, and took part in several battles, including that of Augustovo woods.

On various occasions she served as orderly, scout and telegraphist, and she was finally appointed to the command of a platoon. She succeeded in tapping a German staff telegram relating to a plan to break the Russian centre. As a result of this feat, the Russians were able to repulse the Germans with heavy losses. News of her exploit having preceded her to Vilna, a crowd gathered at the railway station to see the girl officer on her way through, but they were disappointed, for they were not able to distinguish her from the other soldiers.

"Well, You're a Fine Lad! "

And Mlle. Tomilovsky is not alone in her sex to fight for Holy Russia:

A remarkable story of a Russian girl's bravery in the fighting line is supplied by the Petrograd correspondent of the Daily Sketch. Lyubov Ouglitski, otherwise "The Augustovo Amazon," a twenty-one-year-old girl from Smolensk, is lying in hospital at Novgorod, and confidently expecting a visit from the Tsaritsa, says the correspondent. Lyubov — whose name means "love" — has taken part in four big battles, all the time disguised as a man, and had not sickness intervened she would now be fighting on the Vistula.

She is described as "pretty, with expressive, gazelle eyes, but somewhat too strongly built." Her father is village priest of Osipowka. When war was declared she made for Smolensk town and personated her reservist brother,- who died a few days before. She was enrolled in the 7th Army Corps, and finally found herself in Rennenkampf's army.

When Rennenkampf first inspected his men he spoke, among others, to Lyubov, asked the name of "his" village, and said, "Well, you're a fine lad!"

Dread of Using the Bayonet

It was not a mere sentimental pose, this joining- the army. Mile. Ouglitski had resolved to fight.

The "Augustovo Amazon's" first fight was Gumbinnen. Then the Germans were driven back. After General Rennenkampf evacuated East Prussia he fought a rearguard action at Kalwarija. Mile. Ouglitski's battalion here lost half its men in killed and wounded. The girl warrior took part in a fierce fight for a village which ended in the village being destroyed. She says she was not terrified as long as the Germans were on the offensive. But when her shattered battalion was ordered to charge with the bayonet a fearful dread seized her. "I was terribly afraid of having to kill a man. To shoot I did not mind," she said. "I may have-shot several men, but the idea of using my bayonet overwhelmed and horrified me. I realised that if I now killed a man in this way I should know it, and I should remember it to my last day. I prayed that I might myself be shot."

Mile. Ouglitski fought at Augustovo in September, also shortly afterwards in a desperate struggle on the Niemen. After the last fight she thought of deserting, but feared she would be captured and shot. She kept the secret of her sex by pretending to be particularly rough and callous.

"At times my heart bled with compassion which I could" not express," she says. The "Augustovo Amazon's " military-career was ended by a slight wound from a shell splinter. The wound was neglected, and fever ensued. "There are-at least a score of women fighting on our side," she says.. A woman who posed as Private Norman Nesmetoff was. killed outside Suvalki. On the day before her death she-made a forced march with her battalion of 42 versts (about. 26 miles).

"Suddenly there is whispering "

It is not only the terrors of fighting and of wounds, that these brave women face unflinchingly; they can die with the same high and splendid courage. Here, to close, is the story of such an end, so unexpected and so» tragic that it grips the heart in a way no studied romance could ever hope to grip it. It is contained in a letter;-from a German officer in Poland:

Just as I was opening the door of a peasant house a non- commissioned officer of the ----- Regiment comes out to meet me with a grinning face. He had just, with a handful1 of men, partly killed and partly taken prisoners half ai company of Russians. We enter through the low doorway-into the interior of the hut, and my first glance falls upon a very young Russian soldier — almost a child — who was-sleeping upon a mattress of straw and smiling in his dreams. We come nearer, I put my hand upon his forehead — cold as ice. The boy is dead. The men approach to take off his wet clothes. They stand in a semi-circle round him. Suddenly there is whispering, and a horror seems to have seized these brave fellows who otherwise are not afraid of' any power in the world. One steps out and says: "Excuse me, sir, the Russian soldier is a girl! "



from the magazine "T.P.'s Journal of Great Deeds", July 17, 1915

'The Woman's Page In History'


left - enrolling in service
right - French farmers in gas-masks


A page is being added to the history of the War, which, when completed, will be as splendid as those recording the deeds of the men who are now defending the sacred liberties of Europe. And the women will be proud of that page, for it will be their page - the page that will record their activities, in the help of their countries.

a French civilian decorated for bravery


A Farmer's Wife

From every quarter come the details; and there is no sphere of action in which women have not taken an honourable part. Even in fighting there are some who have distinguished themselves. But surely the finest paragraph will be the one in which will be described the more womanly role of the thousands who have given the wealth of their devotion for the alleviation of suffering caused by war. The majority have selected the quietude of the hospital; but many, also, have confronted the dangers of battle to carry out their sacred mission, as, for instance, in the following mention :

Among those mentioned in an Army Order is Mme. Danre, a farmer's wife at Puiseux. near Moulin-sous-Tsuvent, for having lavished attention on French wounded, whom she herself went out to fetch under fire. She remained with them throughout the bombardment of the farm, giving an example of coolness and courage.

And what the moral effect of a woman's attentions can be on a suffering, tired warrior is described in the following few words jotted in a letter by a wounded soldier :

A neat-looking sister smiled so cheerily upon us, and what a change came over the tired faces as they smiled back!

Thirty Hours at Work

Yet the hospital is only one of the many fields of their activities. At Leeds, in a police-court, owing to an accident, was revealed the patriotism of girls working in an ammunition factory. Their example, as will be seen, is worth following:

One girl (it was stated) had gone to work at six o'clock on the Friday morning and had remained at work until half-past seven on the Saturday morning, a period of 25 hours, or, allowing for the meal intervals, twenty-one actual working hours.

In the second case the girl had remained at work for thirty hours. An accident in which one of the girls had had the end of a finger taken off by a machine was responsible for the case coming to the notice of the authorities.

Another girl had never had her clothes off for seven days. So enthusiastic were they that when they got the output up to two million cartridges per week, at their own expense they bought ribbons and flags with which to decorate their machines.

Force versus Wit

The examples can be multiplied indefinitely; it is their variety which brings out the noble spirit by which these women are inspired - a spirit which even the German court-martials are unable to subdue. From Ghent comes the story of the imprisonment of the sixteen-year- old Countess Dardoye, for having- given a sound lesson to a German bully. This is what happened :

The countess was walking with her grandmother, and both ladies were wearing medals with King Albert's picture. A German officer tore the medals from their breasts, shouting, "Away with that King without a country."

The countess picked up the medals, and answered proudly, ''We Belgians prefer a King without a country to an Emperor without honour."

She was immediately arrested.

The Flag of Antwerp

From Belgium - which the Germans hope will at the end realise the advantages of being a province of their Kultured Empire - have come more than one proof of that spirit. Three little girls, on the anniversary of King Albert's birthday, must have astonished the hopeful Germans by their behaviour. For this is what they saw:

Antwerp, in spite of the invaders' hardly-veiled threat, kept holiday. The schools were closed, the papers did not appear. So far the demonstration was negative, but in the early afternoon the population of Antwerp, which, as a rule these days, keeps at home, came out and thronged the streets. It appeared as if these orderly thousands waited for some pageant to pass.

Then suddenly three little girls appeared, walking side by side in the very centre of the silent crowd, and one was dressed all in black, and the second was dressed all in yellow, and the third was a flame of red. So the living flag moved on, a symbol of unconquerable patriotism, moved on through the streets and past the very muzzles of the sullen machine-guns which the Germans have placed in the great station square.

Eyes were wet and heads bared as the pageant, fragile as a flower, went by.

But the instances are not always of the same pleasant nature; the Germans do not allow themselves to be fooled so easily. They know how to treat, according to kultur, chivalry whenever they meet that rare among them thing; and it seems to enrage them especially when the possessor is an enemy woman. This story is a proof:

A French soldier had hidden eleven English soldiers who had got lost. But the Germans discovered them, captured them, and they were sentenced to be shot.

The miller's family were arrested also, and examined by the German officer. He asked the miller's seventeen-year-old daughter whether her father had accomplices.

"Do with me what you like," she said; "you will get nothing out of me."

"I am going to have these Englishmen shot."

"Why? They have done nothing," she answered. "It is I who hid them, and I you must punish."

"Which was the one whose mistress you were," asked the German officer.

The girl cried, "They were all only my friends."

Even the German officer had to give in then, and said to the girl, "You are a good Frenchwoman."

Then came the verdict. The miller was to be shot, his wife sentenced to four years' imprisonment, their daughter to two years', her brother, a boy of fifteen, sent to a German reformatory. The sentence was at once carried out. The eleven English soldiers walked to a wall to stand up and be shot, and as they passed, the French girl, having asked the German officer's permission, kissed each one.

No one could have found better expressions to summarise what everybody feels about all these women than those contributed by Mme. Poincaré, the wife of the President of the French Republic, to a trench newspaper.

While you at the front (writes Mme. Poincaré) are fighting bravely, your wives and all Frenchwomen are setting an example of patient resignation. They are courageous because they wish to be worthy of you. They till the fields, work for the soldiers, and care for the wounded. They follow you constantly in heart and thought. They speak to your children of the absent father, and invoke with them victory. The whole of France thus lives in a common hope. You may be proud to defend such a noble country. We women are proud of those who defend us.

There can be no doubt that the fighters too, are proud of their women.

D. C.


women in all stations of life engage in war-work


Back to Index