University of Leicester
2021StoyceNPhD.pdf (4.15 MB)

‘Theatres of War’: An Exploration of the experiences of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals Serbian Units during the Great War, 1914-1920

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posted on 2022-02-10, 11:32 authored by Natasha Stoyce
In 1914 the women’s suffrage movement and its fight for women’s economic, social, and political equality was temporarily derailed in Britain by the commencement of the Great War. Women who had battled hard to have their voices heard agreed to halt operations so that the country could maintain a united, patriotic focus on the men at the Front. The world’s collective Great War memory is, therefore, dominated by male politicians and servicemen. Some women, however, were determined not to let this stop them from contributing to the war effort. Though societal opposition to female doctors in Britain was strong, a group of women, who history has largely forgotten, volunteered to provide medical aid to Allied soldiers on the frontlines as part of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals (SWH).
The SWH, founded by Dr Elsie Inglis and supported by the French Red Cross, was an all-female medical unit that was active on the Western, Balkan and Eastern Fronts between January 1915 and April 1920. It was to become the only all-female medical organisation to operate across the frontlines of a conflict for its duration. This thesis will be the first to examine the SWH’s Serbian Units’ years of wartime service, recovering their work to Britain’s collective Great War memory. By examining their positions as female medics in foreign warring landscapes this study will discuss the dichotomy created by patriarchal gender essentialism, which categorises women as ‘nurturers’ but excludes them from fulfilling this role as professional medical staff.



Claire Brock; Victoria Stewart.

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of English

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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