Thursday, 20 August 2015

French Military Nurses in WW1 - Elisabeth Jalaguier (1890 - 1918) - French

Juggling with kettles, buckets and bowls of boiled water during the Lancashire contaminated water crisis of August 2015, I am reminded of the sacrifices made by those who nursed during The First World War.  They travelled to all the war zones, suffered the most awful deprivations and saved many, many lives with precious little in the way of medical supplies. Many of them were killed during air raids or by shell fire or died having contracted some of the terrible diseases that were rife at the time.  I salute them all, no matter which country they were from and whether they were women or men.  

Sue Robinson of the Group Wenches in Trenches - The Roses of No Man's Land is organising memorials to the memory of those nurses.  To find out more visit www.wenchesintrenches.co.uk 

Elisabeth Jalaguier was born in 1890 and trained as a French Red Cross nurse.  She became a military nurse in 1914 and in 1918 was sent to Pierrefonds, where there was a military hospital in the Hotel des Bains.    Pierrefonds is a small town in France on the D973 road, between Compiegne and Villers-CotterĂȘts.

The hospital was bombed (it is not clear whether it was shelled or whether this was an aerial bombardment) during August 1918 and Elisabeth was among those killed.  After the bombardment, a white stone was placed where Elisabeth was standing when she was killed.

Elisabeth was awarded the Legion d'Honneur by Georges Clemenceau on 30th May 1919.  In 1933, a collection was made by Dr. Ferrand, who had been in charge of the military hospital in Pierrefonds during the First World War, and a nurse known as 'Mother Perdon'.  A committee was formed to gather funds and the chairman was Albert Lebrun, at that time President of France.   The monument was finally put in place in 1955 where the white stone had been.  In 1996, the Union Nationale des Combttants sold the memorial to the Town of Pierrefonds.  It was restored and inaugurated on 12th Ocrtober 1996, when the Mayor explained that there are not many such memorials in France.   The bronze statue which you can see in the photograph at the base of the memorial stone, was made from a plaster sculpture by Maxime Real del Sarte, who fought and was wounded during WW1 and had an arm amputated.

Source:  Speech made by the Mayor of Pierrefonds during the dedication ceremony in 1996.
http://www.pierrefonds-tourisme.net/monument_infirmieres.html

I followed up a post on William Bulcke's Facebook Page Women of World War One, where he posted a photograph of the memorial to the nurses who were killed while serving in France during the First World War.  Thank you William.

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