A memorial to two First World War heroines has been unveiled in Belgium and it’s thanks in part to kind Sunday Post readers.
Back in August we told you the story of Scots nurse Mairi Chisholm, from Barcaldine, Argyllshire, and her friend Elsie Knocker, from Exeter, the most decorated women of the First World War.
Their story was almost forgotten until Dr Diane Atkinson brought it to a wider audience in her book Elsie And Mairi Go To War: Two Extraordinary Women On The Western Front. She was so moved by their bravery that in 2013 she launched a campaign to build a statue to their achievements.
We put out an appeal to readers to help raise the 100,000 euros needed to create the sculpture at Ypres and you did Maire and Elsie proud.
Diane said: “I would like to send huge thanks to the generous and warm-hearted Sunday Post readers who sent donations.
“Now, at last, Mairi and Elsie are out in the world, life-size in bronze, with their little dog Shot who saved their lives, in a lovely garden in Ypres.”
The statue was unveiled in the grounds of the Ariane Hotel in Ypres last week and shows Mairi and Elsie sitting on sandbags next to their beloved terrier Shot.
The motorbike-mad nurses were known as “The Angels of Pervyse” by the countless hundreds of soldiers they saved.Their first-aid posts in Pervyse, about 10 miles from Ypres, were just 100 yards from the German trenches.
Diane said: “We should be proud of Mairi and Elsie because they were the only women to actually nurse on the front line.”
In the spring of 1918 Pervyse was bombarded with gas shells. Fox terrier Shot woke Mairi and Elsie in time for them to put on their gas masks, but he died. Mairi recovered enough to return to the front and, when she came back to Britain, she and Elsie became members of the newly-formed Women’s Royal Air Force.