Reviewed by National Trustee Barbara Cobain
During World War I, two suffragist doctors set up a 573-bed military hospital staffed almost entirely by women. There they treated an incredible 26,000 war casualties, and pioneered treatments for mortar and gas injuries suffered by front-line soldiers.
This is a well written and diligently researched account of the work of our forgotten heroines of the medical profession.
In 1914, Louisa Garrett Anderson, daughter of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and niece of Millicent Garrett Fawcett (whose National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies evolved into TG) and her partner, Dr Flora Murray, set up hospitals in France caring for thousands of wounded soldiers.
They succeeded so well that, in 1915, they were asked by the War Office to set up another hospital in Endell Street, which became known as the best hospital in London. In 1919, after caring for victims of the Spanish Flu, their hospital was closed and everyone dismissed.
Flora died of cancer in 1923, aged 54. In 1939, Louisa volunteered as a surgeon at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital. She died of cancer in 1943, aged 70.
Only in 1975, after the passing of the Sex Discrimination Act, were medical schools and hospitals forced to accept women on equal terms with men.
I recommend this book to all who wish to know what we owe to these medical pioneers.
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