Sunday 3 July 2016

Italian Women Doctors in the First World War (from Elena Branca of the Italian Red Cross)

Italy joined forces with the Allies and declared war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire on 23rd May 1915 and on Germany on 29th August 1916 and fought alongside British soldiers on the Italian Front during the First World War.

Elena Branca of the Italian Red Cross has very kindly sent me a copy of her book about Italian women doctors who served in the Italian Army in the First World War:
“Dottoresse al Fronte? La C.R.I e le donne medico nella Grande Guerra:  Anna Dado Saffiotti et le altri” (Doctors at the Front?  The Italian Red Cross and women doctors of the Great War:  Anna Dado Saffiotti and the others) published in 2015 by the Associazione Nazionale della Sanita Militare Italiana Sezione di Torino ISBN 978-88-940159-2-8

C.R.I. = Croce Rossa Italiana

My Italian is rather shaky but the book is beautifully illustrated with photographs and copies of correspondence, diplomas, record cards, certificates, etc.  On page 48 is a reprint of a section of an article that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 176 which states:

“…it is announced that, owing to the shortage of male physicians in Italy, the Italian minister of war has recently called upon Italian women physicians to volunteer for military service.  Graduates of over five years’ standing will receive the rank of sub-lieutenant, those of between five and fifteen years will receive the rank of lieutenant and those of over fifteen years that of captain.”

As far as I am aware, the recognition of the same ranks for women and men took a lot longer in the British Army’s Royal Army Medical Corps.

The list of women in the book begins with

Anna Dado Saffiotti (1890 – 1982) and then there are

Chemist Maria Clotilde Bianchi from Turin

Dr. Matilde Bonnet

Clelia Lollini

Eloisa Gardella

Maria Predari

Mary Messere

Elena Fambri

Filomena Coruini – appointed to the 9th Army Corps for service at the front

Maria Montessori

Luisa Ancona

Nella Pecchioli

Amalia Della Rouere-Moretti

Teresita Sandeski Scelba

Emilia Palmeggiani

Limba Neumark

Livia Lollini

Laura Negri Luzzani

Nella Centanni Bernabe

Natalia Tancredi Popa

Marcellina Corio

Augusta Delu

Ida Grazia Norzi

Amalia Lusso

Paola Zappa

Elda Zulian

Maria Massardo

Laura Mazzone

Matilde Colombo

Dina Evarista Clerico

Etel Cogan in Milani

Lina Narizzano

Clotilda Maria Bianchi

Bice Finzi

Valeria Goio

Amalia Canaveri

Gemma Narizzano

Elisa Dotta

Gugliemina Forza

Vera Malani

Amalia Lenti

Clelia Marongin

Carmelita Rossi Casagrandi

Luisa Levi

According to one of the reference books referred to by Elena - “Sorrelle in grigio verde” (sisters in grey-green) by Roberto Manno – the Italian Red Cross officially adopted the grey-green uniform for personnel in the war zones in 1917.