In recent months we, at Wenches in Trenches, have found the dilapidated, forgotten graves of two female doctors who were named as Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur recipients for their services on the Western Front during the Great War. Unbelievably one of those neglected graves was that of Dr Frances Ivens, arguably the most famous female doctor in World War One.
We have to ask: How have the graves of these amazing women been forgotten? Is it because they survived past the 31st August 1921 cut-off date for CWGC grave consideration and so aren't commemorated in the same way as some of their less fortunate colleagues? In many cases we could walk past their private gravestones without even noticing them. How does that do justice to the conditions those women endured to try and save lives? The three hours sleep in every 24 hours for weeks on end? The horrific injuries they were asked to treat?
The prejudice and misogyny they faced to even qualify as doctors, and in some cases the disparaging and dismissive treatment meted out to them by their own country in 1914? How does it honour the fact that they chose a different path and put themselves in danger because they knew they could help others? Most importantly: In an age when the fight for equality has become its strongest, how can we justify letting the memories of these pioneering valiant women fade?
As we’ve said before: We are not naïve enough to think that there aren’t other Great War heroes’ graves in the same dilapidated condition, but the Wenches in Trenches organisation was set up in 2007 to highlight the forgotten contribution by WOMEN in armed conflict, especially those in the Great War. We want to make sure their resting places are not forgotten so that future generations of female pioneers can locate these heroes and pay their respects.
We sincerely thank you in advance for the information you can contribute to our project. Your support really is appreciated.