Source and activity 6

Extract from 'The Dobruja retreat', published in 1918

Handwritten page about Dobruja retreat
Extract from handwritten
version of the memoir.
[NLS reference: Acc.6318, ff.1-3]
View memoir page 1 image

This account of the retreat from Dubruja was written by Mary Milne, a cook working with the Scottish Women's Hospitals (SWH) organisation (source 5).

Read the extract from 'The Dobruja retreat'

The Eastern Front

In the autumn of 1916, Mary's SWH unit was providing medical assistance to the 1st Serbian Volunteer Division.

On 22 October, the women in the unit were forced to leave their camp in Dobruja, Romania, due to heavy fighting.

Mary's memoir, published as a magazine article in 1918, describes the eventful journey to safety.

Suggested activities

Read this extract of one woman's account of working on the Eastern Front. Think about the language, tone, and structure of this piece of writing. Is it a personal memoir, or do you think it was written to be published?

Why might this account have been published anonymously 'by a member of the Scottish Women's Hospital'?

According to this account, how did the women record their experiences while working on the Eastern Front? How did they receive news?

The author uses the phrase 'our noble selves' to describe the women working in the field hospital. Do you think that she genuinely thought of herself as noble and heroic, or is this meant in an ironic way?

Compare this description with the comments by May Sinclair in source 4.

According to the author, how do the women cope with imminent danger?


Source and activity 7



Themes in focus — Women in the Great War


Find out more about women in the First World War in NLS collections

Search our catalogue for details of books about women's role in the First World War.


View list of material relating to Mairi Chisholm (PDF: 56 KB; 2 pages) in the military and naval papers collections at NLS.


Explore our web feature 'Experiences of War' web feature based on diaries and first-hand accounts.


View official photographs of the First World War .


Learn about the women's suffrage movement in Scotland in our online learning resource.


Visit Scotland on Screen to find film clips relating to the First World War and women at work.

NLS learning for you

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